Our newest portfolio company, Eikonoklastes Therapeutics, incorporates three elements we favor as investors: pioneering innovation, a large unmet need and a proven team.
The innovation. Eikonoklastes is a preclinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel immunotherapies for the treatment of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) and several other diseases with high morbidity and high unmet clinical need. Eikonoklastes is targeting tissue factor, a cell surface receptor that is prevalent in certain pathological cells– but not healthy cells. The platform was discovered and designed by scientific founder, Zhiwei Hu, MD, PhD, an early pioneer of tissue factor physiology who initiated his work at Yale University and has further developed it in his lab at Ohio State. Dr Hu has engineered molecules for maximum efficacy and a superior safety profile, which attack three key components of the tumor microenvironment: the tumor cells, the disease neovasculature and tumor stem cells; activating the body’s natural immune reaction. Eikonoklastes licensed the technology from the Ohio State Innovation Foundation.
The unmet need. Eikonoklastes’ lead indication is triple-negative breast cancer (TBC), an aggressive cancer which accounts for 15% of all breast cancers, with an average mortality of ~18 months post diagnosis. TNBC lacks three receptors (estrogen, progesterone, HER2) commonly found in breast cancer, leaving patients with limited treatment options. The platform could also address other cancers and diseases in which cells express tissue factor, including ovarian cancer, metastatic melanoma, and a broad range of other solid tumors.
“There is an urgent and critical need for a novel approach,” said Bruce Halpryn, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Eikonoklastes. “Eikonoklastes’ platform technology is designed for maximum efficacy and a superior safety profile, using targeted killing without the need for a toxic payload. This is a tremendous opportunity to treat numerous diseases.”
“We are impressed with the breadth of the opportunity, which has the potential to address critical needs for patient populations across a broad range of cancers and other diseases,” said John Rice, PhD, Managing Director at CincyTech. “We are also pleased to invest in the Eikonoklastes team, led by a seasoned and successful entrepreneur in Bruce Halpryn, with whom we had worked previously on Myonexus Therapeutics.”
The team. Halpryn was COO of Myonexus Therapeutics, a gene therapy company in which we invested at the seed stage in late 2017. CincyTech principal Sam Lee, MD, MBA, MPH, was a key player in that investment. After Myonexus was acquired by Sarepta Therapeutics in 2019, Halpryn approached CincyTech about his next venture, co-founding Eikonoklastes with Sam, who will serve as Chief Business Officer. Also on the Eikonoklastes team is Chief Scientific/Medical Officer Mark Dato, MD, PhD, a drug development industry veteran who worked with Halpryn at P&G Pharmaceuticals.
You can read the release announcing Eikonoklastes Therapeutics here.