A bountiful B-round for BNCT
FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif.—TAE Life Sciences, LLC (TLS), a biological-targeting radiation therapy company developing next-generation boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) solutions, has announced the launch of an in-house boron delivery drug development program supported by an influx of $30 million in funding. The initial phase of the B-round funds comes from a consortium of investors — including ARTIS Ventures, who led the company’s initial funding in 2018.
The investment will enable TAE Life Sciences to move beyond the current boron-10 drug, BPA, and speed development of novel proprietary boron-10 target drugs at the same time that it hones its neutron beam accelerator technology for BNCT. TLS is reportedly the only company to focus on the parallel development of new boron-10 drugs and a neutron accelerator system, a combination aimed at difficult-to-treat cancers.
“Our research tells us that antibodies and antibody fragments are a natural fit for targeted delivery of boron to a multitude of tumor types. Adapting our knowledge of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) should enable us to develop antibody boron conjugates (ABC) with significant amounts of boron attached,” said Kendall Morrison, chief scientific officer, TAE Life Sciences. “The boron-10 attached to ABCs will be non-toxic and safe to handle in contrast to the hazardous and costly cytotoxic molecules used in ADCs. We expect that these antibody boron conjugates, in addition to new boron-containing small molecules we are developing, will help improve tumor uptake and simplify manufacturing. This should result in even better BNCT outcomes and lead to a shorter and simpler path to the clinic.”
BNCT is a particle therapy designed to selectively destroy cancer cells without damaging neighboring healthy cells — a combination treatment which uses the biological targeting precision of boron-10, which acts as a homing beacon, and the activation by a neutron source. When the boron-containing cells are irradiated by epithermal neutrons, the combination releases a highly localized therapeutic dose that destroys cancer on a cell-by-cell basis with minimal damage to healthy tissues.
BNCT minimizes the need for physical targeting accuracy and complex tumor motion management procedures. Instead, the therapy targets cancer cells biologically by the boron-carrying drugs that preferentially target tumor tissue as well as undetected microscopic cancer cells. The increased accuracy offered by biological targeting means that BNCT requires only one or two treatments.
TAE Life Sciences’ diversified drug program objectives include improved targeting of cancer cells, increased boron accumulation in target cells, longer boron retention time and more boron homogeneity. The company is developing approaches that include small molecule and antibody boron conjugates which meet these objectives. TLS has established a state-of-the-art drug development facility in Santa Monica that includes dedicated labs for cell biology and antibody production, medicinal chemistry and molecular biology. TAE life Sciences is also collaborating with Dr. Fuhuhiko Tamanoi from the University of Kyoto in Japan on using patented biodegradable nanoparticles for delivery of boron-10.
“For patients suffering from complex cancers, BNCT may offer a quicker, effective path to cancer cell destruction, with fewer side effects. TLS’s goal is to continue to increase the efficacy of the combination while bringing costs down so that more clinicians, hospitals, and patients can access this treatment,” added Bruce Bauer, chief executive officer of TAE Life Sciences.