Episode 

Breakthrough Science: Akamara Therapeutics Engineers Next-Generation Immunotherapy for Cancer

August 2, 2018
13 Mins
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Breakthrough Science: Akamara Therapeutics Engineers Next-Generation Immunotherapy for Cancer

Host
Radhika Ananth
VC Investor, Accel
Guests
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Host
Radhika Ananth
VC Investor, Accel
Guests
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Breakthrough Science: Akamara Therapeutics Engineers Next-Generation Immunotherapy for Cancer
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13 Mins
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Host
Radhika Ananth
VC Investor, Accel
Guests
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Summary

Akamara team (formerly named as Invictus Oncology) is advancing first-in-class supramolecular therapeutics as next-generation treatments for cancer patients. The team recently published a ground-breaking article in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering. The highly-accessed article focused on the design of a novel bifunctional supramolecule that outsmarts cancer cells by activating the immune system, namely a type of macrophage that can eat up the cancer cells. Preclinical models treated with the novel anticancer therapy completely inhibited tumor growth, displaying the emergence of a new paradigm in the effective treatment of cancer.

Akamara aims to emerge as a leader in the oncology market, with its supramolecular drug development platform. It is developing a deep pipeline of next-generation drugs that modulate the immune contexture of the tumor microenvironment. While the immuno-oncology space has been crowded with therapies that activate T cells, Akamara has focused on other immune cells that are central players in an immune response. The company’s lead candidate IO-125 is the first drug that activates a unique immune cell, which is a central player in immune memory.

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Dr. Shiladitya Sengupta — Founder Director of Akamara Therapeutics

Accel’s investment thesis in Akamara’s technology platform and product pipeline relied on the understanding of the uniqueness of their lead candidate, IO-125. It is the first known molecule that activates a unique immune response and regressed an aggressive form of breast cancer in preclinical studies. Clinical evidence demonstrates that this unique immune response is associated with long-term survival in cancer patients. These supramolecules are designed using quantum mechanics and computational biology. “Cancer immunotherapies and quantum mechanics are promising paradigms in drug discovery today, and Akamara is incorporating the two powerful approaches in understanding the lesser known pathways in immuno-oncology and finding an effective solution to cancer therapy” — Barath Shankar Subramanian, Accel.

staring structure
Akamara’s supramolecule structure

Akamara, in 2017, raised Series B financing from Accel, Iron Pillar, Romulus Capital and Navam Capital to facilitate the start of their IND-enabling studies for IO-125, while continuing to develop their platform technology and broad pipeline of drugs based on supramolecular chemistry. Akamara anticipates entering clinics with its lead molecule in 2019–20. Their seed round was funded by Aarin Capital, Navam Group, Consilium Ventures and Ratan Tata. Dr Shiladitya Sengupta, the Founder Director of Akamara, is a faculty member in the Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and has founded several start-ups such as Vyome Biosciences and Mitra Biotech in India and the US. Dr Sengupta believes that a proficient team along with the support of high quality investors are critical in enabling such paradigm shifting therapies that can have a major impact on the lives of patients.

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We, at Accel are fortunate to work with Dr Sengupta’s team, aiming to solve unmet and complex pharmaceutical challenges with the potential to transform therapies in the field of oncology.

Akamara Therapeutics

Recent Nature Biomedical Engineering publication: “A designer self-assembled supramolecule amplifies macrophage immune responses against aggressive cancer”

Barath Shankar Subramanian & Radhika Ananth

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