Abilita Bio, Inc. Awarded NCI Phase-I SBIR Grant to Develop Therapeutic Antibodies Targeting Metastatic Breast Cancer

– Will utilize Enabled Membrane Proteins (EMPsTM)
to discover antibodies targeting G Protein-Coupled Receptors –

SAN DIEGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Abilita Bio, Inc. announced today that it has been awarded a Phase I
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Cancer
Institute (NCI) to develop therapeutic antibodies targeting G
Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) involved in the metastasis of breast
cancer, including prostaglandin E2 receptor 2 (EP2),
prostaglandin E2 receptor 4 (EP4), and C-C chemokine receptor
7 (CCR7). With an estimated 1.7 million new cases each year, breast
cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide. It is also the
leading cause of cancer death among women, taking the lives of over
450,000 annually. In addition to the patients who are diagnosed with
metastatic disease at initial diagnosis, nearly 30 percent of women
diagnosed with early breast cancer will eventually develop metastatic

The chemokine receptor CCR7 is highly expressed in human breast cancer
cells, malignant breast tumors and metastases, and overexpression
correlates with larger primary tumors, deeper lymphatic invasion and
poor prognosis. EP2 and EP4 receptors are positively correlated with
increased breast cancer metastasis and have been implicated in
suppression of the antitumor activity of natural killer cells. Given the
body of evidence that implicates CCR7, EP2 and EP4 in cancer metastasis
and immunosuppression, targeted inhibitory antibody therapeutics may
address unmet needs in breast cancer therapy.

GPCRs have been proven to be challenging targets for antibody discovery
due to low cell surface expression, lack of immunogenicity and marginal
conformational stability when removed from the membrane. To address
these limitations, Abilita Bio will leverage its directed evolution
technology to rapidly generate enhanced GPCR antigens called EMPs™
(Enabled Membrane Proteins) that can be used for discovery and
development of therapeutic antibodies targeting CCR7, EP2 and EP4 for
the prevention or treatment of metastatic breast cancer.

“Antibody therapeutics against GPCRs have tremendous potential in
treating cancer due to their exquisite specificity, high affinity and
low toxicity relative to small molecules. However, despite intense
efforts to develop them, only one GPCR targeted therapeutic antibody has
gained approval in the world,” said Mauro Mileni, Ph.D., Abilita Bio’s
CEO and principal investigator on this grant. “We expect the use of
EMPs™ as antigens to dramatically increase the probability of
discovering new therapeutic antibodies to treat serious diseases, while
reducing costs and development timelines.”

About GPCRs

G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) represent the largest class of
membrane proteins in humans, and bind almost all of the known
neurotransmitters and hormones that are released synaptically or
secreted into the circulatory system. GPCRs are expressed in all tissue
types and organs, and are associated with many diseases. The GPCR
super-family includes approximately 400 medically relevant targets. To
date more than 110 receptors have been exploited as drug targets, while
most of the remaining receptors are orphan (130) or under-characterized.

About Abilita Bio, Inc.

Abilita Bio, Inc. was founded in June 2014 and is an innovation-driven
biotechnology company focused on enabling discovery and development of
drugs targeting challenging membrane proteins, including G
Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) and ion channels through the
application of its Enabled Membrane Proteins (EMPs™) technology
platform. Abilita Bio is privately held and owns all the rights to the
EMP™ technology and has established several global collaborations around
the EMP™ platform, including a multi-target proof of concept agreement
with an undisclosed global pharmaceutical company. For more information
visit www.abilitabio.com.


Abilita Bio, Inc.
Mauro Mileni, PhD
President & CEO