CAMBRIDGE, Mass., February 18, 2022 — Codiak BioSciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: CDAK), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company pioneering the development of exosome-based therapeutics as a new class of medicines, today announced the online publication of a new manuscript, Exosome mediated genetic reprogramming of tumor associated macrophages by exoASO-STAT6 leads to potent monotherapy anti-tumor efficacy, in the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s journal, Science Advances.
exoASO™-STAT6 is a novel, engineered exosome precision medicine candidate in development for the treatment of macrophage-rich tumors. This publication details the findings from the preclinical development program and highlights the ability of exoASO-STAT6 to selectively target tumor associated immune-suppressive macrophages (TAMs) and precisely disrupt STAT6 signaling to generate impressive monotherapy anti-tumor activity in cancer models.
“Based on our preclinical observations, we believe exoASO-STAT6 is the first macrophage targeting candidate to show single agent anti-tumor activity of this magnitude, thus offering the potential to overcome significant barriers to prior drug development efforts aimed at transcription factors,” said Sriram Sathyanarayanan, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Codiak. “This publication describes the unique attributes and anti-tumor activity of exoASO-STAT6 in several preclinical cancer models, including colorectal and hepatocellular carcinomas, the latter of which we intend to be the focus of our initial clinical investigations of this candidate.”
TAMs promote tumor growth by exhibiting an immune suppressive M2 phenotype. Reprogramming TAMs toward a pro-inflammatory M1 phenotype is a novel approach to induce anti-tumor immunity. The M2 phenotype is controlled by key transcription factors such as STAT6, which have proven difficult to drug selectively in TAMs by prior approaches. Codiak has demonstrated that exosomes – naturally occurring, extracellular nanoparticle vesicles – can be engineered using its proprietary engEx™ Platform to preferentially deliver STAT6 targeted antisense oligonucleotides to TAMs.
STAT6 pathway activation is associated with poor prognosis in multiple cancers including hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC) and patients with high STAT6 activation may potentially benefit from exoASO-STAT6 therapy.
Codiak plans to initiate in the first half of 2022 a Phase 1 clinical trial to evaluate the safety, tolerability, biomarkers and preliminary anti-tumor activity of exoASO-STAT6 in HCC. With this trial, exoASO-STAT6 will become Codiak’s third engineered exosome candidate in clinical development. Additionally, exoASO-STAT6 will be the company’s first systemically administered drug candidate, first antisense oligonucleotide payload and first candidate to target a transcription factor, highlighting the highly innovative nature of the engEx Platform.
exoASO-STAT6 is an engineered exosome therapeutic candidate which selectively delivers antisense oligonucleotides to down-modulate STAT6 mRNA expression in TAMs. Precise targeting of STAT6 promotes the switch of TAMs to an M1, T cell attractive, anti-tumor phenotype. Codiak plans to initially develop exoASO-STAT6 for primary cancers of the liver, where STAT6 expression has been correlated with poor survival.
About the engEx™ Platform
Codiak’s proprietary engEx Platform is designed to enable the development of engineered exosome therapeutics for a wide spectrum of diseases and to manufacture them reproducibly and at scale to pharmaceutical standards. By leveraging the inherent biology, function and tolerability profile of exosomes, Codiak is developing engEx exosomes designed to carry and protect potent drug molecules, provide selective delivery and elicit the desired pharmacology at the desired tissue and cellular sites. Through its engEx Platform, Codiak seeks to direct tropism and distribution by engineering exosomes to carry on their surface specific targeting drug moieties, such as proteins, antibodies/fragments, and peptides, individually or in combination. Codiak scientists have identified two exosomal proteins that serve as surface and luminal scaffolds. By engineering the exosome surface or lumen and optimizing the route of administration, Codiak aims to deliver engEx exosomes to the desired cell and tissue to more selectively engage the drug target, potentially enhancing the therapeutic index by improving potency and reducing toxicity.
About Codiak BioSciences