Bijan Etemad-Gilbertson, PhD, Head of Antibody Know-how, NextPoint Therapeutics
Bijan Etemad-Gilbertson, PhD
Bijan Etemad-Gilbertson has over twenty-two years of business expertise engaged on antibody therapeutics for most cancers at each small and huge biotech firms. His experience in manufacturing and translating antibody therapies collectively together with his ardour for scientific inquiry, drug discovery, utilized therapeutics, and molecular biology drive his motivation to carry cutting-edge remedies to the clinic. In his present place as head of antibody know-how at NextPoint Therapeutics, Etemad-Gilbertson leads distinctive analysis and growth packages that leverage the immune system’s intrinsic capability to eradicate most cancers cells.
What’s the focus of NextPoint Therapeutics’ innovation?
NextPoint Therapeutics is centered round a novel checkpoint axis utilizing focused molecules that reinvigorate the immune system to assault most cancers cells. There was a variety of success not too long ago with PD-1, PD-L1, and CTLA-4 antibodies, that are safer and higher tolerated than chemotherapy or radiation. These antibodies enter the tumor microenvironment and block immune checkpoints—proteins that usually stop immune cells from attacking wholesome cells and that tumors leverage to show off T cell and NK cell exercise. We’re blocking or de-repressing these pathways.
At NextPoint, we’re engaged on a novel pathway based mostly on the findings of a few of our founders. We’re making antibody therapeutics which can be extremely particular to checkpoint molecules within the novel axis. We’re hoping to file an Investigational New Drug software with the FDA within the first quarter of subsequent yr. As a part of that we’ve to generate a variety of assays to help the preclinical and scientific evaluation. We’re additionally producing an anti-drug exercise assay to detect whether or not the affected person’s immune system makes antibodies towards our molecule, which might be detrimental to the success of our drug as a result of the immune system would clear the antibody and forestall it from working.
How are you partnering with Fortis to advance this work?
We outsource a variety of our work via CROs—there are solely twelve of us within the firm and although we’re solely three years previous, we have already got an enormous pipeline. We engaged with Fortis for his or her rabbit antibody marketing campaign. Immunoglobulins are extremely concentrated within the circulation. If an antibody is just not very particular, it finally ends up binding a variety of issues. We despatched them our antibody of curiosity and an isotype management, which is an antibody that’s precisely the identical as ours besides within the binding web site. They immunize rabbits with our molecule, gather the B cells—which produce a really particular rabbit antibody—and display that antibody to ensure it acknowledges our molecule. Additionally they counter display to ensure that the constructive rabbit antibody doesn’t bind to the unfavourable isotype management. That is an effective way of discovering an antibody that’s extremely particular to our drug.
This can be a commonplace process with the best molecule and the best unfavourable management. Nonetheless, some molecules should not antigenic. For instance, immunizing a rabbit with a molecule that’s similar to one they’ve beforehand seen might result in tolerance and failure to generate a big immune response, by which case there could also be poor antibody yield. Previously, I principally labored with mouse monoclonal antibodies, so it was good to see excessive yields with Fortis’ rabbit marketing campaign. The method was very straightforward as a result of that they had already cloned every B cell, so they might return to them after which produce extra antibodies to extend yields.
What are the following steps for this challenge?
We will take the lead antibodies and develop companion diagnostics. This entails working with an organization that has GLP and GMP amenities, which permits sending a package to a scientific web site that is able to use.
This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.