About Commence Bio
THE COMPANY: A bi-coastal immunotherapy innovator
Commence Bio, Inc., is a Delaware C-corporation with labs in San Diego and offices in the Baltimore area. The company is developing two allogeneic “off-the-shelf”, cell therapy platforms:
- Novel MSC1s represent an entirely new cell therapy class for immuno-oncology, with notable advantages versus dendritic cells, NK, and CAR-T cell therapies in development (e.g. tolerability, safety, applicable to solid tumors, reasonable COGS, etc.)
- The lead inflammatory-disease indication is CMB-200, an MSC2 immunotherapy for acute optic neuritis and multiple sclerosis.
THE SCIENCE: Mesenchymal stem cells as immunomodulators
Mesenchymal stem/stromal cells [MSCs] have long been studied for their regenerative properties and ability to undergo chondrogenic, adipogenic, and osteogenic differentiation. However, in 2007, Dr. Aline Betancourt was the first to show that like other immune cells, MSCs possess Toll-like receptors [TLRs], which function to detect danger signals from the presence of bacteria, viruses and other threats.
This paved the way for further study of the immunomodulatory properties of MSCs. Subsequently, we discovered that selectively stimulating TLRs in populations of naive MSCs drives phenotypic differentiation of the cells. Thus, STaRTTM was born [Stimulated Toll-like Receptor Technology].
THE TECH: STaRT and MSC1 / MSC2 cellular therapies
STaRT utilizes mimetics for the body’s wound-healing signals to polarize MSCs to either an anti-tumor (MSC1) or anti-inflammatory (MSC2) phenotype. Building on the favorable safety profile of naïve MSCs and their appreciable anti-inflammatory properties, STaRT 32 applies stimulation of Toll-Like Receptor 3 [TLR3] to create MSC2s — a uniform, more potent anti-inflammatory cellular therapy that upregulates IL10 and recruits M2 macrophages and Treg cells, among other immunomodulatory effects.
STaRT 41 involves stimulation of TLR4 to create MSC1 cells, a breakthrough use of MSCs as a new cancer immunotherapy that safely re-awakens innate and adaptive immune responses. The potent anti-tumor action observed is in part attributable to increased expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines like IL17, GM-CSF and the TRAIL molecule, along with the recruitment of inflammatory lymphocytes and mast cell degranulation in the tumor microenvironment.
THE PLAN: Advancing MSC1 & MSC2 breakthrough immunotherapies
With compelling results observed in seven different disease models, Commence Bio is developing new MSC1 & MSC2 human therapeutics directly, and via collaborators. New partnerships in veterinary medicine are being established to both enable P0 studies, as well as provide improved treatment options for people with pets suffering from cancers and immune-mediated inflammatory diseases. Meanwhile, plans are in place to make MSC1 & MSC2 cells available to stem cell researchers and biofabrication engineers for further study.