US-based biotechnology company RXi Pharmaceuticals has formed a research alliance with the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, to develop and improve immuno-oncology treatments for solid tumours.
The partners will develop RXi’s sd-rxRNA compounds against targets that are associated with differentiation of T cells and NK cells, as well as looking at the immune cell stress response triggered by tumours.
They aim to produce anti-tumour adoptive cell therapy grafts with better functionality and persistence.
RXi Pharma has devised a self-delivering RNA interference (sd-rxRNA) technology platform to develop next-generation immuno-oncology candidates.
The platform uses immune cells extracted from the patients or allogeneic immune cell banks, and expands or processes them to express tumour-binding receptors.
This is followed by the ex-vivo processing of the immune cells. This process uses sd-rxRNA to remove expression of immunosuppressive receptors from the immune cells, making them less sensitive to tumour resistance.
As part of the alliance, RXi will continue Karolinska Institutet’s recent research that showed sd-rxRNA targeting PD-1 can increase TIL anti-tumour activity against in-vitro melanoma cells.
RXi Pharmaceuticals chief development officer Gerrit Dispersyn said: “The combination of their prior results and the anticipated research results from this new collaboration are critical elements for a rapid advancement of sd-rxRNA immuno-oncology therapeutics into the clinic, further supported by our prior clinical experience with sd-rxRNA in other indications.”
The company expects the sd-rxRNA therapeutic compounds to help in leveraging therapeutic immune cells to target cancer, offering a new therapy option for patients.
Karolinska Institutet Experimental Oncology senior professor Rolf Kiessling said: “In this collaboration, we look forward to exploring using sd-rxRNA to modulate targets outside of checkpoints to improve efficacy of immune effector cells such as T cells and NK cells.”