In recent years, the ground-breaking industry of immunotherapy has come to the forefront of cancer treatment. Though still not as commonly used as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, immunotherapy aims to make tumors an easy target for the body’s own self-defense mechanisms, thus producing less serious side effects. One limitation, however, is that immunotherapy treatments typically require a certain genetic marker to be present on the surface of a tumor, and there’s no guarantee that a patient will have it. TriBiotica is working to develop a solution for this. If they succeed, it could revolutionize cancer treatment as we know it.
TriBiotica was founded by three scientists with over sixty years of collective experience in immunology research and 150 publications between them. Their Haplomer™ therapeutic approach, consists of a matched pair of nucleic acid-peptide conjugates that will be injected into the blood stream.
“The way that our technology works, we can very specifically target the tumors with two different molecules, and those molecules will come together — or template — only inside of tumor cells, not normal cells,” says Gary Magnant, CEO. “When the two molecules come together, an active protein is made which can make the tumor a target for an existing antibody-based immunotherapy drug, an immunotherapeutic T-cell; or it can even form a toxin that, once it is assembled, will kill the tumor cell directly.”
In order to target a tumor, TriBiotica first gains information through DNA sequencing of the tissue. Once they are aware of the specific types of mutations the tumor possesses, these can be targeted by Haplomers using a guiding nucleic acid specific for that mutation.
Magnant has been taking TriBiotica on a “venture engineering journey,” communicating with different people in the cancer treatment industry and beyond to find out ways their technology could meet patient and researcher needs. Haplomer™ was first developed in a cell model, and feedback from the pharmaceutical and biotech companies they’ve established relationships with has encouraged TriBiotica to prove its effectiveness in mammals. At this time, (June 2019) they are generating early animal data to drive R&D agreements with larger pharmaceutical companies.
“This could be as big as some of the biggest discoveries today,” Magnant says. “Being able to reposition drugs to target tumors that they normally would never be effective against could be really powerful in eradicating cancer. We hope that, someday, this technology will become so effective, that it enable people to receive a diagnosis of cancer and not feel the weight, fear, and gravity they do today — in most cases, we’d be able to cure it.”