Target: Pancreatic cancer
GlobeImmune, a 2008 Fierce 15 winner, has attracted venture capital funding and a Big Biotech deal for its pipeline of vaccine candidates. The company is developing Tarmogens--Targeted Molecular Immunogens for cancer and infectious disease. Its lead oncology candidate is GI-4000, a vaccine that targets pancreatic cancer caused by mutated versions of the RAS protein.
GlobeImmune raised an impressive $41 million in 2007 and another $17.5 million in 2010; between rounds, it inked a deal worth $40 million upfront and up to $500 million with Celgene ($CELG) for the development of cancer vaccines. Last year the biotech cut 25% of its staff but noted that it was streamlining its business and not dropping any of its development programs.
GlobeImmune's Tarmogen technology uses genetically modified recombinant baker's yeast that expresses protein targets that stimulate the immune system's T cells against a desired target. "We use recombinant baker's yeast because it looks horribly dangerous to the immune system if it goes where it doesn't belong," CMO and vice president of R&D David Apelian tells FierceBiotech. The yeast is genetically modified to carry mutated RAS protein. GlobeImmune injects the heat-killed protein-carrying yeast into patients, prompting the immune system to attack the imposters. In the process the immune system learns how to identify and eliminate the protein elsewhere in the body.
The company's Phase II trial of GI-4000 for pancreatic cancer fully enrolled almost two years ago, says Apelian. Partial results are expected late this year with full results anticipated by mid-2012. In addition to pancreatic cancer, GlobeImmune is developing GI-4000 for non-small cell lung cancer and colorectal cancer.