Enumeral Biomedical Holdings Inc, Cambridge, Mass, recently announced that the company has signed an agreement with the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Harvard University as part of Enumeral’s phase II small business innovation research (SBIR) contract with the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
Enumeral is developing an advanced, automated prototype system for human tissue immuno-oncology profiling, which will be deployed in the laboratory of Douglas S. Kwon, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at the Ragon Institute. In January, Enumeral announced a similar agreement to place a protoype system in the laboratory of Jedd D. Wolchok, MD, PhD, chief of melanoma and immunotherapeutics at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
“We believe that an automated profiling system will take significant steps toward streamlining our processes, increasing throughput and, importantly, allowing us to interrogate the human immune microenvironment at the cellular level,” says Kwon.
Kwon’s research focuses on the immunology of mucosal surfaces and tissues, home to between 60% and 90% of the body’s lymphocytes, which are primary disease-fighting white blood cells. Studying these immunological compartments in human patients relies on “small volume” clinical specimens such as core biopsies, which often contain limited numbers of cells and can be challenging to analyze with conventional technologies.
“We are excited to expand our relationship into a formal collaboration with Dr. Kwon, given his expertise in human mucosal immunology as well as his lab’s familiarity with our platform through his work with our scientific founder at MIT,” says Arthur H. Tinkelenberg, PhD, president and CEO of Enumeral. “This collaboration with the Ragon Institute may broadly impact our understanding of the fundamental biology of the human mucosal immune microenvironment, which in turn could impact the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases, inflammatory diseases, and cancers.”
Enumeral’s collaboration with the Ragon Institute is supported by a phase II SBIR contract from NCI for $999,967 over two years. NCI is funding the entirety of the program, which complements Enumeral’s other internal research and development efforts. Enumeral generated proof of concept in this area under a Phase I contract in 2012 and 2013.
Enumeral’s human-driven immune profiling platform is enabling and accelerating the discovery and development of novel antibody immunotherapies, or immunomodulators. The core technology behind the platform was developed at and licensed from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and Massachusetts General Hospital.
Enumeral performs measurements on single immune cells from patient-derived biopsy samples for information that is difficult to obtain using other methods, and that may guide the development of effective therapeutics and diagnostics. The platform’s efficiency and sensitivity increase the probability of measuring rare immune cells associated with disease or drug response.
Studying rare immune cells obtained directly from human patients for their functional responses may lead to the selection of best-in-class antibody drug candidates that may have a higher likelihood of successful development. Such knowledge generated from Enumeral’s platform is being applied to better understand which drug candidates might work in which patients, and at what stage of disease.
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