Fighting Cancer by Delving into the Budding Field of Immunotherapy

InteliSpark client, Glycobia, Inc., secures $300,000 for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for phase I of their project, “Novel Strategy to Generate Glycan-Specific Antibodies for Cancer Immunotherapy.” Dr. Brian Green, Senior Director of Research and Development at Glycobia, Inc., will lead this project to investigate an innovative method to advance the field of immunotherapy.

The growing field of cancer treatment through immunotherapy targets malignant cells, but unlike traditional therapies, it avoids dangerous and unpleasant side effects of treatment. Immunotherapy is a promising method of treatment as it helps the body’s natural immune system fight against cancer.

Tumor-associated carbohydrate antigens are appealing targets for immunotherapy, but the problem is that carbohydrates are poor immunogens. As a result, cancer research has developed few diagnostics and treatments in targeting these antigens.  

In response to this significant technical challenge, Glycobia Inc. will use a novel immunization strategy that elevates and focuses the immune response to these poor immunogens. Researchers hope this will lead to the development of vaccines and antibody-based therapies targeting carbohydrate antigens that are found in human cancers, such as, but not limited to, lung cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, and melanoma.

Though not as widely used as traditional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, immunotherapy shows great promise. Glycobia, Inc. is contributing directly to this field through its technology and continued research through federally-funded projects. The company is a biotech startup founded by Cornell faculty member, Dr. Matthew P. DeLisa and PhD alumnus, Dr. Adam Fisher.