Heat Biologics, already in phase 2 clinical trials with an experimental treatment for nonsmall cell lung cancer, is readying to study its immunotherapy technology in additional cancers.
The Chapel Hill, North Carolina company is more than halfway through a $4.1 million fundraising round to help that effort. Securities filings show that Heat Biologics has raised $2.8 million. In 2010, the company closed a funding round from Brightline Ventures to accelerate its cancer immunotherapy research. Specifics of that investment were not disclosed.
Heat Biologics was spun out of the University of Miami in 2008 in partnership with investor Seed-One Ventures based on the work of Dr. Eckhard Podack, professor of medicine and chairman of the department of microbiology and immunology at the university. Heat last year moved its corporate offices to Chapel Hill. The company still maintains a research facility at the University of Miami Life Science Park.
Heat aims to develop off-the-shelf immunotherapies that are less invasive than personalized medicine approaches that use a patient’s own cancer cells or blood. Heat’s technology genetically modifies cells to be used as an “antigen delivery system” that prompts a patient’s immune system to mount a response against disease. Heat’s proprietary Immune Pan-Antigen Cytotoxic Therapy, or ImPACT, technology has potential applications in a range of cancers, HIV, hepatitis C and other diseases.
Clinical work on nonsmall cell lung cancer drug candidate HS-110 began in 2009. Heat’s ImPACT Technology is used to modify lung cancer cells to stimulate the immune system response. Heat says on its website that it plans to start clinical trials for additional cancers in 2012. The company is preparing to start trials for ovarian and pancreatic cancers. The Heat ImPACT technology is in preclinical studies as a possible HIV treatment. The company has also received a $1.5 million National Institutes of Health grant to support the HIV research.