Strand Therapeutics Scores Two Grants to Advance Programmable, Long-Lasting mRNA Therapeutics for Melanoma and Breast Cancer

August 4, 2021
Strand Therapeutics Scores Two Grants to Advance Programmable LongLasting mRNA Therapeutics for Melanoma and Breast Cancer im

The total funding amount awarded to Strand is approximately $800,000.

Strand Therapeutics was awarded two Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop mRNA-based therapeutics for melanoma and triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). 

The total funding amount awarded to Strand is approximately $800,000.

While there have been advances in the development of treatment options for melanoma, the number of diagnoses continues to increase. Furthermore, standard of care using anti-PD-1 immunotherapy has been limited as not all patients respond to the therapy. To address this need, the first award granted to Strand will support the development of programmable mRNA circuits that express cytokines which regulate the activation of immune cells, to stimulate an adaptive immune response as a neoadjuvant therapy for melanoma.

TNBC is another cancer indication in need of more targeted and effective medicines. While checkpoint inhibitor therapies including anti-PD-1 antibodies have improved outcomes in patients, only a small percentage respond to this treatment strategy. The second award will allow Strand to engineer synthetic self-replicating mRNA therapies expressing locally-acting cytokines with the goal of improving anti-PD-1 therapy responses.

“It is well known that cytokines can be utilized to achieve an anti-tumor effect in cancer patients. However, treatment strategies that involve cytokines can be highly toxic, and therefore, its efficacy can be limited. To that end, we can use our programmable, self-replicating mRNA therapeutic platform to localize cytokine expression that will potentially enable more precise and longer-lasting anti-cancer immune responses,” says Jake Becraft, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Strand, in a news release.  “This generous support from NIH’s NCI will enable us to create synthetic mRNA-based therapeutics that can be safer and more effective than currently available treatment options for both melanoma and breast cancer patients.”

Strand Therapeutics has created the first platform for programmable, long-acting mRNA therapeutics for cancer and other diseases that are poorly addressed by traditional approaches. Bioengineered for high efficacy and low toxicity, Strand’s next-generation mRNA therapies deliver multi-functional treatments for deadly diseases. The company’s initial focus is the development of mRNA therapies that act through multiple mechanisms to deliver potentially curative treatments for solid tumors. Strand is also developing programmable mRNA for the generation of cell therapies capable of greatly expanding patient access to the technology in a cost-effective, re-doseable, off-the-shelf form. 

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