Strand Therapeutics Awarded Phase I NIH SBIR Contract to Develop mRNA-based CAR-T Immunotherapy for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–()–Strand Therapeutics, a privately held biotech company developing next-generation, programmable mRNA therapeutics beyond vaccines, today announced that the company was awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop an off-the-shelf chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) immunotherapy based on the company’s mRNA technology for the treatment of B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). The total funding amount awarded to Strand is approximately $400,000.

As one of the most common cancers in the U.S., NHL accounts for approximately 4% of all cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that in 2021 over 80,000 people will be diagnosed with NHL. While CAR-T therapies have shown clinical benefit in patients, many individuals still suffer treatment-induced toxicities including cytokine release syndrome, neurologic complications and adverse effects from lymphodepletion. Furthermore, development of CAR therapies is costly, with manufacturing processes being difficult and time-consuming.

To address these challenges, Strand will use the funds from the contract to develop an in situ, off-the-shelf cell therapy based on the company’s proprietary self-replication, programmable mRNA platform to illicit a targeted CD19 CAR-T response. This novel approach has the capability of providing long-term, temporal and cell-type specific expression, potentially minimizing off-target effects and enabling redosing without lymphodepletion.

“Strand’s in situ CAR delivery approach and its capacity to provide long-term, programmable expression is the first such method that could offer life-saving therapeutics to all patients at a fraction of the cost of currently-available treatments,” said Jake Becraft, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Strand. “This opportunity enables us to position ourselves in the field of mRNA-based CAR therapies and sets the stage to further develop our technology in areas of unmet medical need.”

The company was recently awarded two Phase I NIH SBIR grants to advance its programmable, long-lasting mRNA therapeutics for melanoma and breast cancer, directed at enhancing the efficacy of anti-PD-1 immunotherapies.

About Strand Therapeutics

Strand Therapeutics is an emerging biopharmaceutical company poised at the forefront of mRNA therapeutics and synthetic biology. The company 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. Strand Therapeutics was founded in 2017 by world leading mRNA researchers from the MIT Synthetic Biology Center, creators of the field of mRNA-based synthetic biology. The company is based in Cambridge, MA. For more information, visit our website at www.strandtx.com.

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