Immunocytokines are a unique class of therapeutics that combines two critical components of the human immune system into a single bi-functional therapeutic modality. Immunocytokines combine the targeting specificity of antibodies with the powerful immune-stimulating features of cytokines. Dr. Gillies invented the basic technology in the 1990’s and licensed it to Merck KGaA. While working at Merck, he developed several technology improvements that are utilized in Provenance’s lead molecule, DI-Leu16-IL2. After leaving Merck in 2008, he re-invented the way that these molecules are constructed leading to enhanced efficacy and reduced side effects, thus resulting in a potent but patient-friendly immunotherapy. This new immunocytokine platform also establishes intellectual property with increased patent life.
The Company is pursuing the development of two new anti-cancer immunocytokines based on antibody targets that are well known and validated for high level expression in their respective cancer types. These include metastatic melanoma (targeting a molecule called CSPG4) and prostate cancer (targeting EpCAM) as initial disease indications. In addition, these new molecules should be useful for many other cancers expressing the same target. Provenance is also applying this technology for the treatment of persistent HIV infection by utilizing the principles it has learned for cancer therapy. The approach is to eradicate what is known as the HIV viral reservoir.