There has been a rapid growth in research for CD47 over the last year, and it is increasingly being targeted in the use of cancer treatment.
CD47, known as the “don’t eat me molecule”, is expressed on cancer cells. When CD47 binds to its receptor on macrophages (immune cells which engulf and digest cancer cells), the cancer can escape macrophage destruction. More and more companies are entering the CD47 field, such as Boehringer Ingelheim as highlighted below, with further developments, increasing partnerships, and regulatory accelerations.
Patents researching CD47 (Worldwide Data July 2006 – Jan 2019)
Companies are looking to differentiate themselves with combination therapies targeting the innate or adaptive immune system, which is one area of focus that many smaller companies are taking.
Pre-Clinical CD47 / SIRPa combination based therapies targeting the innate immune system (Worldwide Data July 2014 – Jan 2019)
Recently, an additional innovative approach pushed the field in another direction: the use of nanobodies to more selectively direct and target the anti-CD47 antibodies. GenCirq, co-founded by Dr. Tal Danino, employs programmed bacteria with tumor homing abilities to deliver therapeutic treatments using their proprietary delivery program.
Currently, they are exploring in cancer therapy the use of nanobodies engineered to bind and dismantle CD47’s activity. The smaller antibodies can better penetrate the tumor from the inside, wreaking havoc and killing cells from within, and reaching a more advanced level of selectivity than we have seen up until now.
While the potential use of nanobodies has been under investigation for several years, the first nanobody-based therapy, Ablynx’s Caplacizumab, was only approved earlier this year for the use of Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura.
Research Papers around the use of “nanobodies” (Worldwide Data July 2014 – Jan 2019)
Top entities investigating the therapeutic potential of “nanobodies” (Worldwide Data 2014 – 2019)
GenCirq’s use of nanobodies to target CD47 bridges two nascent ecosystems. While still relatively at an early stage, this novel approach indicates a strong opportunity to revolutionize the industry, and has potential as an enhanced cancer immunotherapy.
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Written by Shir Miodownik
Research Analyst at Signals Analytics
Shir has worked for Signals Analytics for a year as a research analyst. She completed her Masters in Genetics and Molecular Biology at Bar Ilan University and is currently a medical student at Ben Gurion University.
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