Cell therapy biotech Acepodia hired Nobel laureate Carolyn Bertozzi as its chief scientific adviser, the company announced Monday.
Bertozzi’s scientific work in click chemistry and its use in living cells is the foundation of Acepodia’s antibody-cell conjugation (ACC) platform.
Acepodia noted in a press release that in the chief scientific adviser role, Bertozzi will help “support the development and innovation” of the company’s differentiated therapeutic approach.
Many recall that Bertozzi received the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry after discovering a new form of click chemistry. Dubbed bioorthogonal chemistry, the approach involves integrating bioorthogonal reactions inside living organisms with cellular functions — all without interrupting normal cell operations.
The approach is now used in disease targeting in cancer and other functions like tracking biological processes.
Acepodia’s ACC platform involves combining antibodies that target tumors to proprietary immune cells like natural killer and gamma delta T cells. The combinations create novel ACE therapies.
“Dr. Bertozzi’s Nobel Prize-winning research in click chemistry is the foundational science upon which Acepodia was built, and it is a tremendous honor to have her join us as we advance our programs through the clinic,” Acepodia CEO Sonny Hsiao said in a statement. “My early experience in immune cell therapy which led to the development of our ACC platform began in Dr. Bertozzi’s lab, and we are proud to have her support as we work to progress our pipeline of enhanced cell therapies for solid tumors and hematologic cancers.”
In a statement, Bertozzi noted that Acepodia is “poised to make a significant impact on the treatment landscape,” and that she plans to build upon the progress the company has already made, targeting a goal of improving upon existing therapeutic options for patients.
Currently, Bertozzi is the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University as well as an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In her new position at Acepodia, she will lead the company’s scientific advisory board.
One of the candidates in Acepodia’s pipeline, ACE1831, is a Phase 1 cell therapy that targets CD20 – a cancer marker for B-cell malignancies. ACE1831 targets CD20-expressing cancers like chronic lymphocytic leukemia, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma.
Months prior to hiring Bertozzi, Acepodia snagged $100 million in a Series D round to fund its oncology pipeline, which includes both ACE1831 and ACE2016 — an anti-EGFR armed allogeneic gamma delta 2 T-cell therapy that takes aim at EGFR-expressing solid tumors.