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Five Prime collaborates with University of Minnesota
SAN FRANCISCO—Five Prime Therapeutics Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on discovering and developing innovative immuno-oncology protein therapeutics, has announced that it will collaborate with faculty from the University of Minnesota Medical School on a new research project to identify ways of generating hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) that are capable of being transferred in vivo and regenerating the hematopoietic system.
The research is being led by Dr. Bruce Blazar, of the University of Minnesota Medical School Department of Pediatrics and the Division of Blood and Marrow Transplantation. Blazar is Regents Professor of Pediatrics and chief of the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program as well as vice dean for clinical research at the University of Minnesota Medical School. For more than 30 years, he has directed preclinical basic and translational immunology and stem cell research and early-phase clinical studies, with particular emphasis in blood and marrow transplantation immunobiology.
According to Five Prime, the company has known Blazar for several years. He is also a member of Five Prime’s scientific advisory board, although this is Five Prime’s first collaboration of its kind with the University of Minnesota.
“Dr. Blazar is a renowned expert in this area of immunology, and the impact of work in this area could be far-reaching for cancer patients and others receiving stem cell transplants and cell-based therapies,” said Dr. Lewis T. “Rusty” Williams, president and CEO of Five Prime. “The Five Prime team is pleased to support this exciting project.”
The objective of the collaborative project is to improve the efficacy and safety of HSCs that are given to treat patients with a wide range of malignant and nonmalignant diseases. The project investigators have used adult cells to create a human inducible pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) line with markers that indicate exposure to HSC activating proteins. Five Prime will screen its proprietary library of more than 5,700 human extracellular proteins to identify proteins that promote the in-vitro formation of human HSCs from the iPSCs.
Proteins that may offer a self-renewable means for expanding the pool of available HSCs could have a transformative impact on diseases where patients receive a blood product, bone marrow, peripheral blood or cord blood transplant, or suffer from an immune deficiency or recurrent infection. Recovery time might be shortened, and the potential for rejection and other serious side effects may be reduced.
“By collaborating with Five Prime Therapeutics, we have unique access to a high-throughput platform that includes a library of virtually all extracellular proteins, including cell membrane-bound and secreted proteins in full-length functional formats,” commented Blazar. “As a result, virtually any protein identified should be able to be translated into the clinic without the type of concerns one might have with a drug-based screen. We believe this differentiates our approach and enhances our opportunity for success.”
Five Prime tells DDNews, “The Five Prime discovery platform includes a library of more than 5,700 extracellular proteins believed to encompass substantially all of the body’s medically important targets for protein therapeutics, including cell membrane-bound and secreted proteins in full-length functional formats. This platform will be used to help identify new ways to generate HSCs that are capable of being transferred in vivo and regenerating the hematopoietic system. We hope to use our unique platform to help patients.”
Five Prime is applying all aspects of its biologics discovery platform, including cell-based and in-vivo screening, receptor-ligand matching technologies and bioinformatics, to probe its library comprehensively and systematically to discover and develop new therapeutic candidates.
The project is supported by Regenerative Medicine Minnesota, a state-funded program that awards grants for research, clinical trials, clinical care, educational programs and businesses in Minnesota that promote, advance, improve or enhance awareness of regenerative medicine. Five Prime will contribute its proprietary screening technology and expertise free of charge to the project, and will have a time-limited option in the future to negotiate a patent license to inventions arising from the collaboration.