Themis has built a proven platform to effectively address the need for novel vaccines and to expand the potential of the platform to prevent large market infectious diseases and treat other indications like cancer. The most advanced development indications include Noro virus, RSV and CMV.
The measles virus vaccine vector is uniquely positioned for the cancer immunotherapy field due to its intrinsic oncolytic capabilities, which have been demonstrated in a variety of pre-clinical studies. Themis is exploiting its knowledge and experience in clinical validation and cGMP manufacturing to develop safe and effective cancer therapies using a set of approaches based on the measles vector, such as adding different tumor killing and immune-modulatory payloads to increase the oncolytic effect or combining the oncolytic effect with other novel cancer therapies with synergistic mechanisms of action.
As a first step, Themis has recently signed an exclusive license agreement with the Max-Planck Innovation GmbH covering intellectual property from discoveries made at Prof. Ulrich M. Lauer’s Virotherapy Research Group at the Eberhard-Karls-University Tübingen. Based on their leading oncology and virotherapy expertise, Themis is advancing various MV-based virotherapy programs equipped with a tumor-killing payloads. The most advanced program uses an inserted gene encoding for an enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of a safe, non-toxic and licensed anti-mycoticum (5-FC, prodrug) into a cytotoxic, clinically approved, chemotherapeutic drug (5-FU). In cancer cells 5-FU results in the inhibition of DNA and protein synthesis which triggers cell death even in those cells resistant to virus-induced destruction (i.e. local chemotherapy). This approach allows the use of the chemotherapeutic drug in a highly targeted manner rather than a systemic application that causes major side effects.
Themis will continue to expand the cancer immunotherapy potential of its platform through collaborations with external research & development teams at the forefront of oncology innovations to maximizing the commercial and therapeutic potential.
Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States alone. Each year, it causes 20 million cases of illness and contributes to multiple thousands of hospitalizations and several hundred deaths. Additionally, the Norovirus is also the most common cause of foodborne-disease outbreaks. The infection can be serious, especially for young children and older adults.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most common germ that can cause serious infections in infants, especially those in certain high-risk groups. Currently there is no vaccination against RSV available.
In the United States congenital cytomegalovirus infection is the most common viral infection of infants. About 1 in 150 children is born infected. The infection causes more long-term problems and childhood deaths than Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, and neural tube defects.
In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern Zika virus disease is caused by the Zika virus which is spread through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Outbreaks of Zika have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. As there is currently no vaccine or preventive drug available, options to prevent Zika virus disease are limited.