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Immunophotonics Awarded $2.4 Million SBIR Grant by the National Cancer Institute

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, UNITED STATES, February 17, 2022 / -- Immunophotonics, Inc., a clinical-stage biotech company, was recently awarded a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase I / Phase II Fast-Track grant for $2.4 million for research regarding use of the company’s lead drug candidate, IP-001. The research will assess the potential of IP-001 when administered in conjunction with microwave thermal ablation in HCC liver cancer, further expanding the potential clinical indications of use for IP-001 as an agent intended to transform a local, routine tumor ablation into a systemically active cancer immunotherapy. This research will be conducted in two phases over three years by Immunophotonics and its collaborators at the University of Louisville Division of Surgical Oncology. The SBIR Award program, awarded in this case by the NIH’s National Cancer Institute, is a highly competitive program coordinated by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that promotes technological innovation through investment of federal research funds toward technologies with the potential for commercialization for small businesses within the United States.

Siu Kit “Samuel” Lam, PhD, who oversees research and development at Immunophotonics as the company’s Senior VP of Science and Research, is serving as the Principal Investigator for this prestigious award. Dr. Lam remarked how pleased he was that Immunophotonics had received this grant award and stated:

"This grant will allow Immunophotonics to perform further preclinical testing of IP-001 for the treatment of cancer in the liver, which is an organ that presents a unique challenge to cancer immunotherapies because of its inherent immunosuppressive environment. Our approach has the potential to revolutionize common interventional oncology procedures by transforming them into a systemic immunotherapy that could be applicable to a variety of solid cancer indications."

Dr. Robert CG Martin II, M.D., Ph.D., FACS, Professor of Surgery at the University of Louisville and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Immunophotonics, will head the subaward work being conducted at the University of Louisville. He expressed his enthusiasm to be collaborating with Immunophotonics in a way that allows him to use his expertise regarding translational research and surgical quality of care for HCC. “The data obtained from this SBIR grant will help enable clinical trials that advance IP-001 as an agent to treat patients with liver cancer and improve their disease-free survival, immunologic activity, and quality of life,” observed Dr. Martin.

This IND-enabling research project is officially titled “Development of polymeric synthetic biomaterial IP-001 to potentiate a systemic immunotherapy of hepatocellular carcinoma via thermal ablation.” Tumor ablation is a minimally invasive procedure used to physically kill tumors through various modalities and is frequently used as an alternative to surgical resection. The limitations of ablation in the clinic include that recurrence rates are high and that the procedure has little to no effect on distant metastases of the tumor. However, one beneficial side effect of tumor ablation is that it leaves tumor debris that may contain tumor antigens that, with an intratumoral injection of IP-001, can be used by the body’s innate and adaptive immune systems to activate a systemic response against the cancer.

About IP-001
IP-001 is a proprietary glycan polymer that acts both as an antigen depot and a potent immune activator capable of stimulating immunological responses against cancer and infectious diseases. It is designed to (1) leverage tumor antigens liberated by ablation by prolonging their availability, (2) facilitate the recruitment and activation of innate immune cells such as antigen-presenting cells (APCs), (3) increase the uptake of the tumor antigens into the now-activated APCs, and 4) lead to a stronger downstream adaptive immunity. This ignited systemic, adaptive immune response seeks out and eliminates its target throughout the body.

About Immunophotonics
Immunophotonics is a privately owned clinical-stage biotech pioneering the field of Interventional Immuno-OncologyTM. IP-001, the first asset from the company’s intellectual property platform, has the potential to transform a routine tumor ablation into a systemically active cancer immunotherapy in multiple solid tumor indications. The company is based in St. Louis, Missouri, USA with subsidiaries in Bern, Switzerland and Tianjin, China.

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R44CA257683. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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