NEW YORK – Philadelphia-based Seneca Therapeutics on Monday announced that it had licensed the intellectual property rights to Tumor Endothelial Marker 8 (TEM 8) from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
TEM 8, which is a protein expressed on the surface of tumor cells in many solid cancers, may enable Seneca to identify which patients are likely to respond to treatment with SVV-001, the company's lead asset comprised of an oncolytic virus of the genus Seneca. SVV-001, which has the potential to destroy tumors through tumor cell lysis, release of tumor antigens, and stimulation of an anti-tumor immune response, is non-pathogenic in humans and animals and has demonstrated safety and tolerability in early-phase clinical trials. The company has also noted early indications of activity specifically in cancers with neuroendocrine features such as small cell lung cancer, large-cell neuroendocrine non-small cell lung cancers, carcinoid tumors, glioblastoma, and many pediatric cancers.
With the licensing of TEM 8 from MSK, the company plans to further define the population of patients most likely to derive benefit from SVV-001. Specifically, by prescreening patients to determine their levels of TEM 8 expression, the company hopes to predict whether patients' cancer cells will support SVV replication in and killing of the tumor cells. Seneca will evaluate this selectivity in upcoming clinical trials of SVV-001, building on the research of MSK's Charles Rudin and colleagues.
"Unlike most other oncolytic viruses, SVV only replicates and kills cells that express TEM 8, namely solid tumor cells," Paul Hallenbeck, Seneca Therapeutics' president and chief scientific officer, said in a statement. "MSK's technology should also enable the wise selection of cancer indications best able to benefit from SVV therapy and enhance the number of patients that should respond."