NEW YORK and ANN ARBOR, Mich., Nov. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Lycera Corp., a privately held biopharmaceutical company developing breakthrough immune modulatory medicines, announced today that research findings from the Company’s RORgamma agonist program will be presented at this week’s annual meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, taking place in National Harbor, MD, November 4-8, 2015.  RORgamma is a nuclear receptor transcription factor that serves as a master control switch of the immune system, driving the activation and differentiation of immune cells, including Th17 (helper) and Tc17 (cytotoxic) T cells.

In a poster titled, “RORgamma Agonists Enhance Survival and Memory of Type 17 T Cells and Improve anti-Tumor Activity,” a research team including scientists at Lycera, the Medical University of South Carolina, and the University of Michigan, will report the key preclinical research findings from Lycera’s program, including:

  • Lycera’s synthetic RORgamma agonists bolster the generation of effector immune cells, including Th17 and Tc17 T cells. These agonists demonstrated robust anti-tumor activity in adoptive cell transfer and syngeneic models, increasing the activity of effector immune cells while decreasing immune suppression.
  • In vitro stimulation of Th17 or Tc17 cells in the presence of Lycera’s RORgamma agonists increased the expression of costimulatory molecules and production of immune-enhancing cytokines, such as IL-17A, IL-17F, GM-CSF and CCL20, maintained IFNgamma production, and decreased expression of coinhibitory molecules, including PD-1, and the development of regulatory immune cells.
  • Administration of RORgamma agonist-treated T cells to tumor-bearing mice as an adoptive cell therapy resulted in numerous effects, including: extended persistence of cytokine-producing T cells in vivo; increased tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs); reduced immune suppression as measured by decreased PD-1 expression in TILs; and enhanced presence of long-lasting memory immune cells in the spleen. These effects translated to highly significant inhibition of tumor cell growth and a survival advantage.
  • Administration of RORgamma agonists in syngeneic tumor models resulted in immune-dependent inhibition of tumor growth compared to vehicle controls.

“We are pleased to report the ongoing progress of our lead immuno-oncology program, including further confirmation of findings showing that our RORgamma agonists resulted in inhibition of tumor growth, a shift in the balance toward immune stimulation and away from immune suppression, and the persistence of memory cells,” said Paul Sekhri, President and CEO of Lycera. “These and other key findings point to the potential of our platform and approach to developing this next-generation approach to cancer immunotherapy.”

Additional Poster Details

Poster/Abstract Number: 26

Time, Date & Location of First Viewing: 6:00pm – 7:30pm ET, November 5, 2015, Prince George Exhibition Hall A, Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center

Authors: Xiao Hu1, Jacques Moisan1, Kinga Majchrzak2, Chuck Lesch1, Yahong Wang1, Brian Sanchez, Xikui Liu1, Rodney Morgan1, David Mertz1, Dick Bousley1, Chad van Huis1, Don Skalitzky1, Clarke Taylor1, Thomas Aicher1, Peter Toogood1, Weiping Zou3, Gary Glick3, Chrystal Paulos2, Laura Carter11Lycera Corp., 2Medical University of South Carolina. 3University of Michigan.

About RORgamma agonists

RORgamma is a nuclear receptor transcription factor that serves as a master control switch of the immune system, driving the activation and differentiation of immune cells, including Th17 (helper T-cells) and Tc17 (cytotoxic T cells) T cells. Lycera has discovered selective and potent oral agonists that target RORgamma for the potential treatment of a broad range of cancers. Lycera has developed orally bioavailable RORgamma agonists that have demonstrated single agent therapeutic activity in multiple animal models of cancer. In addition, ex vivo treatment with Lycera’s RORgamma agonist compounds has been shown to enhance the therapeutic benefit of adoptive T-cell therapy by improving both immune cell persistence and activation.

About Lycera

Lycera is a biopharmaceutical company developing novel oral immune modulators for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and cancer. Based on successful progress of its world-class R&D platform, including expertise in immune metabolism, cell signaling, and immune cell differentiation, Lycera is commencing multiple clinical programs in 2015 and 2016. The company is advancing a wholly owned, oral, gut-directed ATPase modulator, designated LYC-30937, for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, which is currently in Phase 1 clinical testing, and oral RORgamma agonists for diverse applications in immune-oncology. Lycera has an exclusive strategic collaboration with Celgene Corporation to advance Lycera’s proprietary pipeline for cancer and immune-mediated diseases. In addition, Lycera had previously established collaborations with Merck to discover, develop, and commercialize small molecule therapies for autoimmune disorders.

Lycera’s leadership possesses deep experience in drug discovery, development, and commercialization and has established close relationships with renowned thought leaders and clinical researchers worldwide. Lycera was founded in 2006 based on an initial scientific platform in-licensed from the University of Michigan. Lead investors in Lycera include InterWest Partners, ARCH Venture Partners, Clarus Ventures, and EDF Ventures.