Sextant Therapeutics has discovered a process ancient in evolution but not previously described that the human body relies on to activate anti-viral and cancer-killing immune responses. Armed with this knowledge, we are developing new generations of vaccines and cancer immunotherapies using the human body’s innate alarms to activate killer immunity. Our discoveries are rooted in 15 years of research at the MIT Koch Institute for Cancer Research and will transform how cancer is treated today.
Sextant has discovered the specific molecular signals released by dying (apoptotic) cells that can drive potent cell-killing and durable tumor-suppressing immunity, the Triggers. Significantly, our discovery that dying cells can even activate killer immune responses is beyond current immunologic theories and therapeutic models. We have discovered how these immune-activating Triggers are repressed in cancer, and how to drug cancer cells to turn them back on. Sextant’s discoveries open a new frontier in cancer immunotherapy – novel drug combinations that trigger tumors to recruit potent cancer-killing immune responses.
We have reverse engineered the cell death process and identified the genetic components within dying cells that control Trigger exposure. We now have a validated in vivo model that accurately describes how dying cells stimulate cell-killing immune responses and have identified a range of novel druggable targets for cancer immunotherapy. Synthetic Triggers, potent stimulators of cell-killing immunity, can enhance current cancer immunotherapies and power new classes of anti-viral and anti-cancer vaccines. Sextant has a quick path to early revenue and to ground-breaking therapies, which include:
1) New classes of immunomodulators for activating anti-viral and anti-cancer immunity.
The Triggers are protein adjuvants, enabling scalable peptide-based vaccines that specifically activate cytotoxic immunity for treating viral infections and cancer.
There is a desperate unmet need in the clinic for potent activators of cell-killing immunity to treat viral infections and cancer = partnering and licensing opportunities.
2) Convert patient biopsies or surgical resections into personalized vaccines.
Approved drugs are currently available to control exposure of Triggers on tumor cells.
Treat tumor cells in vitro and administer as personalized vaccine.
3) Develop small molecule drugs that convert radiation therapy into personalized vaccines.
Radiation of tumor + Sextant's Drug = Exposure of Triggers and immunization against the tumor.
Sextant has identified how tumors avoid immune surveillance and we have Targets, Assays, and Lead Compounds for triggering cancer-suppressive immunity.
Sextant sparks a new paradigm of immunotherapy. Triggers are the body's natural alarms, enabling potent and specific activation of the "killer T cells." Current checkpoint inhibitors rely on drugging the immune system to remove the brakes, but we have discovered the gas pedal for cell-killing immunity. Now we can target tumors directly to invoke the patient’s immune system to beat back cancer and stop it from returning.