BRISBANE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Maverick Therapeutics Inc., a private immuno-oncology company pioneering next-generation redirected T cell therapeutics, announced today that the company has generated multiple candidate molecules against various solid tumor indications. James R. Vasselli MD, recently named Vice President of Clinical Development, will lead the planning and execution of the clinical development of candidates emerging from Maverick’s proprietary COBRA™ platform.
“The company’s progress in designing, engineering and studying our conditionally active T cell engagers in solid tumor cancers provides a strong rationale for looking ahead toward clinical development and the design and execution of patient trials. After optimizing the conditional activation of our therapeutic platform, and ushering multiple candidate molecules through preclinical studies, we are excited to add to our team Dr. Jim Vasselli with his highly relevant experience and track record of accomplishments,” said Maverick Chief Executive Officer Jim Scibetta.
“Maverick’s COBRA technology harnesses the anti-tumor capabilities of redirected T-cell therapy while potentially reducing toxicity via the conditionally active design. Thus, the COBRA platform may provide a larger therapeutic widow than previously achievable with bispecific modalities,” Dr. Vasselli said.
“We have seen tremendous and exciting advances in immuno-oncology with checkpoint inhibitors and T cell engaging therapies including BiTEs and CAR T therapies. However, many cancers are resistant to checkpoint inhibitors, and the majority of patients are not cured. In addition, highly potent constitutively (i.e. unconditionally) active T cell engagers, have demonstrated substantial toxicity when used against solid tumors and thus far shown very little progress in treating solid tumor cancers. I believe that the COBRA technology can successfully address this extremely important and large unmet medical need in the solid tumor cancer patient population,” he added.
Dr. Vasselli will report to Maverick CEO Jim Scibetta, and join the executive team comprised of Bob Dubridge, Senior Vice President Discovery Research and Chad May, Vice President Research & Development. Dr. Vasselli joins Maverick from MacroGenics, Inc. (Nasdaq: MGNX), where he was Vice President Clinical Research – Oncology, and launched multiple Phase 1 and 2 trials for several different immuno-oncology therapies. Prior to MacroGenics, Dr. Vasselli spent nine years at AstraZeneca / MedImmune, leading Phase 2 / 3 studies of vandetanib in thyroid cancer and then had a major role in gaining FDA and EMA approval for vandetanib. He then moved on to lead the Phase 1 and 2 studies on the ant-PD-L1, durvalumab during his time at MedImmune. Dr. Vasselli worked at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) 1995 to 2005, initially as a Surgical Oncology and Clinical Trial Research Fellow in the Surgery Branch under Dr. Steve Rosenberg. He then worked under Drs. Richard Klausner and Marston Linehan as a Basic Science Research Fellow in the NCI Urology Branch. Dr. Vasselli earned a B.A. in Engineering from Lafayette College, an M.D., from New York Medical College, and completed a General Surgical Residency at Morristown Memorial Hospital.
About COBRA™ Therapeutic Platform
The company’s proprietary COBRA™, or COnditional Bispecific Redirected Activation, molecules are conditionally active and highly potent T cell engaging molecules, each targeted to well validated tumor antigens expressed on specific solid tumors. COBRAs are engineered to be inactive prodrugs when initially administered systemically. The prodrugs are capable of binding to their cognate antigen at the tumor, and once bound, subject to proteolytic cleavage. This results in domain rearrangements allowing for direct engagement of and activation of T cells. COBRAs are designed to remain as prodrugs outside of the tumor microenvironment where, when bound to target antigens and not subject to the same proteolytic tumor microenvironment, they remain incapable of engaging and activating T cells. COBRA molecules have demonstrated tumor microenvironment dependent T cell mediated regressions of established solid tumors in preclinical models; the uncleavable control form of the prodrug, by comparison, has no anti-tumor activity.
About Maverick Therapeutics
Maverick Therapeutics is pioneering the next generation of redirected T cell therapeutics in immuno-oncology. Maverick’s highly innovative platform is designed to deliver potent activity with increased tumor specificity and reduced toxicity, resulting in superior therapeutics for cancer patients and improved clinical success. Maverick was founded by MPM Capital in 2016 through a spin-out from Harpoon Therapeutics. In early 2017 Maverick announced a series of transactions providing $125 million of committed funding from Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd, MPM BioVentures 2014 and MPM Capital’s UBS Oncology Impact Fund. For further information, please visit www.mavericktx.com.