BOSTON, Feb. 09, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- ZIOPHARM Oncology, Inc. (Nasdaq:ZIOP), a biopharmaceutical company focused on new cancer immunotherapies, today announced that the first patient has been enrolled in a Phase 1 clinical study of its second generation non-viral CD19-specific chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) modified T-cell therapy in patients with advance lymphoid malignancies. The CD19-specific T cells were modified using the Sleeping Beauty system to stably express the CAR in T cells.
The Sleeping Beauty transposon-transposase is a unique non-viral system for introducing genes encoding CARs and T-cell receptors (TCRs) into lymphocytes and is exclusively licensed by Intrexon Corporation (NYSE:XON) through The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and accessed as part of ZIOPHARM’s collaboration. This non-viral approach may play an important role in immunotherapy and has several potential advantages over viral delivery systems, including:
- Lower cost of generating genetically modified T cells
- Generate T cells with minimal ex vivo processing
- Conduit to targeting solid tumor neo-antigens using TCRs
- Pathway to overcome regulatory hurdles
"The survival benefit seen in early clinical results with our first generation CD19-specific CAR+ T cells were highly encouraging, and preclinical results to date suggest that our next generation CAR structure may improve upon these outcomes," said Laurence Cooper, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of ZIOPHARM. "These studies continue to strengthen our understanding of the application and benefit of the Sleeping Beauty platform, the only efficient non-viral gene transfer system in clinical application. Sleeping Beauty offers the potential to significantly reduce the expense and simplify the implementation of genetically modified T cells, both of which are critical to the personalization and broad application of immunotherapies based on CARs and TCRs."
In two prior trials the first generation CD19-specific CAR+ T cells, patient-derived (autologous) or donor-derived (allogeneic) T cells were administered to recipients with advanced CD19-expressing leukemias and lymphomas after hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT). Results demonstrated an apparent doubling of survivals compared to historical controls.
The second-generation Sleeping Beauty CAR+ T cells employ a revised CAR construct designed to improve persistence and anti-tumor response over the first generation therapy. Additionally, this investigational treatment is independent of HSCT. This trial is being conducted at MD Anderson.
About ZIOPHARM Oncology, Inc.:
ZIOPHARM Oncology is a Boston, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company employing novel gene expression, control and cell technologies to deliver safe, effective and scalable cell- and viral-based therapies for the treatment of cancer. The Company's synthetic immuno-oncology programs, in collaboration with Intrexon Corporation (NYSE:XON) and the MD Anderson Cancer Center, include chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) and other adoptive cell based approaches that use non-viral gene transfer methods for broad scalability. The Company is advancing programs in multiple stages of development together with Intrexon Corporation's RheoSwitch Therapeutic System® technology, a switch to turn on and off, and more precisely modulate gene expression in order to improve therapeutic index. The Company's pipeline includes a number of cell-based therapeutics in both clinical and preclinical testing which are focused on hematologic and solid tumor malignancies.
Forward-Looking Safe-Harbor Statement:
This press release contains certain forward-looking information about ZIOPHARM Oncology, Inc. that is intended to be covered by the safe harbor for "forward-looking statements" provided by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended. Forward-looking statements are statements that are not historical facts, and in some cases can be identified by terms such as "may," "will," "could," "expects," "plans," "anticipates," and "believes." These statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding the progress, timing and results of preclinical and clinical trials involving the Company's drug candidates, and the progress of the Company's research and development programs. All of such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, many of which are difficult to predict and generally beyond the control of the Company, that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to: whether chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR T) approaches, Ad-RTS-IL-12, TCR and NK cell-based therapies, or any of our other therapeutic candidates will advance further in the pre-clinical or clinical trials process and whether and when, if at all, they will receive final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or equivalent foreign regulatory agencies and for which indications; whether chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR T) approaches, Ad-RTS-IL-12, TCR and NK cell-based therapies, and our other therapeutic products will be successfully marketed if approved; the strength and enforceability of our intellectual property rights; competition from other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies; and the other risk factors contained in our periodic and interim SEC reports filed from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including but not limited to, our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2014, and our Quarterly Reports on Form 10Q for the quarters ended March 31, 2015, June 30, 2015 and September 30, 2015. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements that speak only as of the date hereof, and we do not undertake any obligation to revise and disseminate forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof, or to reflect the occurrence of or non-occurrence of any events.
RheoSwitch Therapeutic System® (RTS®) technology is a registered trademark of Intrexon Corporation.
Source:ZIOPHARM Oncology, Inc.