Cullinan Oncology Launches Cullinan Amber to Pioneer Next-Generation Cytokine Fusion Proteins for Cancer Therapy
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 22, 2020 – Cullinan Oncology, LLC today announced the launch of Cullinan Amber, a company focused on developing a next generation immuno-oncology platform to enhance the therapeutic window of immune-stimulatory cytokine combinations for the treatment of cancer. Cullinan Amber has acquired an exclusive license from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for technology based on the seminal work of K. Dane Wittrup, the C. P. Dubbs Professor in Chemical Engineering and Biological Engineering, to develop novel multifunctional constructs that are retained in the tumor microenvironment via collagen binding, which enables prolonged local activity of immunostimulatory cytokine combinations. Cullinan Amber’s lead program is a single agent comprised of two potent antitumor cytokines, interleukin-12 (IL-12) and interleukin-2 (IL-2), along with a collagen-binding domain. IND-enabling studies are expected to commence in 2H20.
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with Dane and his team,” stated Patrick Baeuerle, Chief Scientific Officer, Biologics and co-founder of Cullinan Oncology. “The Wittrup lab has developed a pioneering approach that we believe has the potential to combine and finally enable pro-inflammatory cytokines to realize their full potential as effective, safe and well-controlled cancer therapeutics.”
“Historically, numerous studies have shown that cytokine combinations, including IL-12 and IL-2, can synergistically enhance both innate and adaptive immunity, and mediate impressive antitumor activity across a range of preclinical tumor models,” stated Jon Wigginton, Chief Medical Officer of Cullinan Oncology. “Clinically, however, many cytokines have been limited by systemic toxicity, and were developed without the benefit of key learnings regarding dosing, supportive care and patient selection that have emerged in the field of immuno-oncology.”
To address this challenge, the Wittrup Lab, as described in a groundbreaking publication in the June 2019 issue of Science Translational Medicine (Momin et al., 26 June 2019), fused various cytokines to a collagen-binding protein and injected them directly into the tumor, which effectively retained the cytokines locally, minimized their systemic dissemination and toxicities, and prolonged their anti-tumor activity. Most importantly, non-injected tumors likewise shrank in response to therapy due to the induction of a systemic immune response.
About Cullinan Oncology LLC
Cullinan Oncology was formed to develop a diversified portfolio of highly promising single asset oncology opportunities through both internal and external means and to do so in a unique, cost-efficient model that leverages a central management team and shared services model to drive speed and efficiency. For additional information, please visit www.cullinanoncology.com.