Munich/Martinsried, Germany, October 25, 2021 – Secarna Pharmaceuticals GmbH & Co. KG (“Secarna”), a biopharmaceutical company focusing on the discovery and development of next generation antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) therapies to address challenging or previously undruggable targets via its LNAplus™ platform, has joined forces with the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis, the leading drug discovery and development center in the Baltics, the Institute of Bioinformatics (Medical University of Innsbruck), with renowned experts in next generation sequencing (Dr. Anne-Margrethe Krogsdam Christensen) as well as computational cancer immunology and data analysis (Priv.-Doz. Dr. Hubert Hackl) to investigate the tumor microenvironment, and Innoplexus AG, the leading Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform for drug discovery. The newly founded consortium aims to improve the efficacy of personalized treatment of cancer patients by exploring the role of ASOs as a new tool for targeted immunotherapy, based on a better understanding of tumor microenvironment functions and their impact on the disease course.
Tumors do not exclusively exist in the body as isolated, heterogenous cancer cells, but are also formed by a variety of resident and infiltrating host cells, secreted factors, and extracellular matrix proteins, collectively known as the tumor microenvironment (TME). Within the TME, immune cells are modified to protect the cancer cells against the body’s own immune system and enable them to grow. To target these aberrant immune cells and ultimately enhance immune responses, different antibody-based immunotherapies have been developed. However, these treatments are only efficient in a small subset of patients and, in some cases, can show severe side effects. Currently, the underlying cause for this is unknown and so far no biomarkers have been identified that can predict an immune response. Therefore, the development of new approaches to further understand the TME and identify novel biomarkers is of essence to improve patient care.
Working together to identify biomarkers correlating with tumor-induced resistance pathways
Secarna has developed antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) targeting core immune metabolic pathways which are generally aberrantly up-regulated within the TME, allowing the cancer to evade the immune response: The adenosine axis (CD39 and CD73) and the kynurenine axis (TDO1- IDO). In this context, the up-regulation of these pathways can be observed through the increase of certain metabolites, such as adenosine and kynurenine, which are key immune-suppressive metabolites. To understand which role these ASOs play within the tumor microenvironment, the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis will analyze the metabolite levels in independent cancer models after ASO-treatment. In parallel, the NGS core facility and the group of Hubert Hackl at the Institute of Bioinformatics (Medical University of Innsbruck) who are highly experienced in bulk and single-cell RNA expression analysis, will perform expression analysis and process expression data to characterize certain immune cell subsets in the TME of these models. By combining the metabolite panels and RNA expression profiles, the transnational scientific consortium aims to identify previously unknown biomarkers in order to predict the impact the various ASOS have on the disease course of cancer patients.
The consortiums’ scientific work is backed-up by Innoplexus, an AI & Blockchain powered virtual drug discovery company employing its proprietary platform, OntosightTM traverse the entire life science data universe including disease model experiments in combination with its world-leading patented AI technology to uncover novel biomarkers that could potentially have a role in tumor stratification.
Alexander Gebauer, MD, PhD, CEO of Secarna Pharmaceuticals, said: “This newly founded research consortium provides us and our partners with the unique opportunity to work together to bring light into the operating principle of the tumor microenvironment and, therefore, identify novel biomarkers that correlate with specific tumor-induced immune resistance pathways. We at Secarna are looking forward to work together with our partners at Innoplexus, the Institute of Bioinformatics (Medical University of Innsbruck) and the Latvian Institute for Organic Synthesis to lay out the basis for individualized targeted therapy in the future.”
The consortium has applied for the project grant TRANSCAN-3 Sustained collaboration of national and regional programs in cancer research, funded by the European Commission under Horizon 2020 on the topic Next generation cancer immunotherapy: targeting the tumor microenvironment.
About Secarna’s proprietary drug discovery platform, LNAplus™
For discovering, testing and selecting antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) for pre-clinical and clinical development, Secarna employs its proprietary, customized LNAplus™ drug discovery platform. LNAplus™ encompasses all aspects of drug discovery and pre-clinical development and has proven to be fast, reliable, scalable, efficient and to provide for a uniquely integrated workflow, enabling the discovery and development of novel antisense-based therapies. The platform includes the powerful proprietary Oligofyer™ bioinformatics pipeline, a streamlined, high efficiency screening process including our proprietary LNA-Vit(r)ox™ safety test system as well as target-specific functional assays. Secarna’s platform and ASOs have been validated by numerous in-house projects as well as in several academic and industry collaborations.
About Secarna Pharmaceuticals GmbH & Co. KG
Secarna Pharmaceuticals is the next generation antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) company addressing high unmet medical needs in the areas of immuno-oncology, immunology, as well as viral, neurodegenerative and cardiometabolic diseases. Secarna’s mission is to maximize the performance and output of its proprietary LNAplus™ antisense oligonucleotide discovery platform, as well as to develop highly specific, safe, and efficacious best-in-class antisense therapies for challenging or currently undruggable targets. With over 15 development programs, including proprietary pipeline projects as well as partnered programs, we focus on targets in indications where antisense-based approaches have clear benefits over other therapeutic modalities, Secarna is the leading independent European antisense drug discovery and development company. www.secarna.com
About Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis
Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis (LIOS) is a state research institute specializing in organic chemistry, pharmaceutical research, molecular biology, and bioorganic chemistry. LIOS is the leading drug discovery and development center in the Baltics and has more than 60 years of experience in drug design and technology development. IOS delivered 18 original and more than 70 generic medicines to its industrial partners. The mission of LIOS is to merge achievements of innovative academic research in organic chemistry and pharmacology with competence in applied research of medicinal chemistry, thus, contributing to the development of science in Latvia and quality of life of society.
About the Institute of Bioinformatics (Medical University of Innsbruck)
The Institute for Bioinformatics was established in 2010 as the latest member of the Biocenter at the Medical University of Innsbruck and it is dedicated to supporting basic research and teaching in bioinformatics and computational biology. The Institute for Bioinformatics is well equipped both for data processing and management as well as for computational analysis of a broad range of data types, including next-generation sequencing data, proteomics and metabolomics data, and image analysis. It has a state-of-the-art computational infrastructure, which is dedicated to bioinformatics analysis. A number of analytical pipelines, databases and software tools developed by the laboratory and others are installed and continuously maintained. The research of the Institute of Bioinformatics focuses on cancer immunology and aims at deciphering tumor-immune cell interaction by means of a combined computational-experimental approach. It specifically looks at the question of how the immune system shapes the mutation spectrum of the tumor, both during progression and after treatment, in patients with colorectal cancer. The institute uses tumor-derived organoids, perturbation experiments and multimodal analysis, including next-generation sequencing, phosphoproteomics and imaging mass cytometry to facilitate precision immuno-oncology.
About Innoplexus AG
Innoplexus is a leading global AI-based platform for drug discovery and development with over 250 employees and 120+ patent applications including 41 granted patents in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain technologies. Innoplexus’ solutions can generate real-time insights from hundreds of terabytes of structured and unstructured private and public data, thereby, facilitating continuous, informed decision-making for its customer base at an unprecedented speed. Founded in 2015, Innoplexus AG is headquartered in Eschborn, Germany, with offices in Pune, India, as well as Iselin, and San Francisco, United States.
Secarna Pharmaceuticals GmbH & Co. KG
Alexander Gebauer, MD, PhD
Secarna Pharmaceuticals GmbH & Co. KG
Am Klopferspitz 19
Tel.: +49 (0)89 215 46 375
Anne Hennecke/Vera Lang
MC Services AG
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