Leaps by Bayer invests in cancer vaccines

Published: 4-Apr-2019

The partnership with US-based Khloris Biosciences will develop new anti-cancer vaccines based on human induced pluripotent stem cells

The investment arm of Bayer, Leaps by Bayer, has joined forces with Khloris Biosciences to develop new anti-cancer vaccines based on human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The technology by the biotech company, Khloris, has the potential to address one of today’s biggest issues in human health: to prevent and cure cancer.

Cancer Vaccination

Although initiated a century ago, the field of cancer vaccines is still in an early stage of development. Cancer vaccines could be either prophylactic - intending to prevent cancer from developing in healthy people, or therapeutic – intending to treat existing cancer by strengthening the body’s natural immune response against it.

Human iPSCs have potential as anti-cancer vaccines because they share the same characteristics of cancer cells, such as expression of tumour antigens and the ability to self-renew. Injecting iPSCs that genetically match the recipient, but that are unable to replicate, can safely expose the immune system to a variety of cancer-specific targets.

Pushing onward

Curing and preventing cancer is one of the main focus areas of Leaps by Bayer, since it still represents one of today’s biggest health concerns with limited curative or preventative therapies available.

Kemal Malik, Bayer board member for Innovation, said: “We are very impressed with Khloris’ approach. It represents a unique opportunity in the development of novel vaccines that ultimately would enable our immune system to successfully fight cancer before it gets out of control – the ultimate breakthrough in cancer management”.

“Bayer’s development expertise, commercial reach and worldwide network of R&D sites, combined with our scientific knowledge and technology, will increase the chances to bring this potential breakthrough option to patients in need,” commented Prof Joseph C Wu, co-founder of Khloris.

The Board of Directors will be composed of two representatives from Khloris - Dr Lynne A. Bui and Prof Joseph C Wu - and two representatives from Leaps by Bayer - Dr Juergen Eckhardt and Dr Lucio Iannone.

The terms of the investment have not been disclosed.

Khloris is the 7th investment of Leaps by Bayer, a unit of Bayer investing in solutions to some of today’s biggest problems. Previous investments include Casebia Therapeutics (CRISPR/Cas technology to cure severe genetic disorders), BlueRock Therapeutics (iPSC technology to cure cardiovascular and CNS diseases) and Joyn Bio (probiotics for plants to enable for chemical fertiliser-free farming).

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