Pharma Focus Asia

Hillstream BioPharma Announces Collaboration with Sapien Biosciences in Cancer Treatments

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Hillstream BioPharma, Inc., a biotechnology company developing novel therapeutic candidates targeting ferroptosis, an emerging new anti-cancer mechanism resulting in iron mediated cell death for drug resistant and devastating cancers, today announced a collaboration with Sapien Biosciences to evaluate the synergy of HSB-1216 with immune checkpoint inhibitors.

Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors and Ferroptosis

Treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) induces the effector function of T cells in the tumor microenvironment (TME). Activated T cells accumulated in TME then kill tumor cells mainly by enhancing cell death through the granzyme pathway and by releasing interferon gamma (IFN) from CD8 + T cells. Ferroptosis is a newly defined form of cell death, that is different than apoptosis, necrosis or autophagy, and results from iron-dependent accumulation of lipid reactive oxygen species or lipid peroxidation.

Recent studies published [Nature, 569 (7755):270-274, 2019] describe that immunotherapy-activated CD8 + T cells enhance ferroptosis-specific lipid peroxidation in tumor cells leading to the anti-tumor effect of immunotherapy. Activated CD8 + T cells by treatment with ICIs promote tumor cell lipid peroxidation and thereby sensitize tumor cells to ferroptosis inducers through IFN. The study concluded that inducing the Ferroptotic pathway in combination with checkpoint blockade is a potential synergistic therapeutic approach.

“We are initiating studies, in collaboration with Sapien Biosciences, to determine the synergy between HSB-1216, our ferroptosis inducer and nivolumab, an anti-PD1 antibody,” said Randy Milby, Hillstream’s Chief Executive Officer. “In addition, we will also study the potential synergistic effects of HSB-1216 with the recently approved Bristol Myers Squibb drug Opdualag® (nivolumab + relatlimab), a fixed dose combination of an anti-PD1 MAb + anti-LAG3 MAb, to demonstrate that targeting a ferroptosis-associated metabolism in tumors may improve the efficacy of cancer immunotherapy.”

“We are excited to extend our collaboration with Hillstream Biopharma to evaluate potential synergy between their HSB-1216 molecule and ICIs using our expertise in establishing patient tissue-derived cell models in oncology, immunology and Immune-oncology,” said Dr. Jugnu Jain, CEO, Sapien Biosciences. “Previously, Sapien demonstrated potent anti-cancer activity of HSB-1216 in primary triple negative breast cancer cells which were presented at AACR 2020.”

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