Immuno-oncology is one of the most exciting areas of drug discovery and development today. By leveraging recent breakthroughs in our understanding of immune cell function and regulation, immuno-oncology approaches hope to harness the patients’ immune system to eliminate their tumors, and potentially cure cancer. Much of this research is focused on cytotoxic T cells, a powerful killer of cancer cells when properly activated.
The principle of engaging cytotoxic T cells for redirected lysis of cancer cells using bispecific antibodies was first described in 1985. But it was not until 2014 that this approach was shown to be clinically and commercially viable with the approval of blinatumomab (Blincyto®) for treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory acute B-lymphoblastic leukemia. While blinatumomab validated the therapeutic principle of engaging T cells for cancer therapy, Maverick has dedicated its internal efforts towards developing a next generation of proprietary T cell-engaging therapeutics. In particular, Maverick is seeking to engineer recombinant antibody-based therapeutics that are designed to target tumor cells and engage cytotoxic T cells but only in a highly localized fashion to minimize toxicity.