Immuneering Corp. applies translational bioinformatics to drug development. Its biopharmaceutical therapeutic focus is oncologic and neurologic diseases.
The company has more than a decade of experience in translational bioinformatics that it believes allow it to generate superior insights into drug mechanisms of action and patient treatment responses. Immuneering has developed a disease-agnostic platform for human data, novel biology and chemistry, and translational planning to create and advance its wholly owned therapeutic pipeline.
The company starting its learning pathway helping large pharmaceutical companies understand the biological mechanisms behind some of their most successful medicines. Its technology relies on human patient data. Other computational approaches to drug discovery rely on cell lines, which are cultures of animal cells, but Immuneering’s analysis shows that, according to the company’s CEO, Ben Zeskind, “although some of the cell lines bear resemblance to tumours [for instance], there are a large number of patient tumours that look nothing like the cell lines genetically.” Today, its current development programs in oncology are focused on providing treatments for patients with solid tumors caused by mutations of the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK pathway and other oncologic signaling pathways.
The company’s lead product candidate, IMM-1-104, is designed to be a highly selective dual-MEK inhibitor that further disrupts the kinase suppressor of RAS 1 and 2 for the treatment of advanced solid tumors in patients harboring RAS mutant tumors. It plans to submit an Investigational New Drug (IND) for IMM-1-104 to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the first quarter of 2022. Furthermore, the company anticipates filing at least two additional INDs for our other oncology programs, one in each of 2023 and 2024.
Zeskind participated in the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition (the $50K back then) and helped organize some of the MIT Enterprise Forum’s events around entrepreneurship.
“MIT has a unique culture around entrepreneurship,” Zeskind says. “There aren’t many organizations that encourage it and celebrate it the way MIT does. Also, the philosophy of the biological engineering department, of taking problems in biology and analyzing them quantitatively and systematically using principles of engineering, that philosophy really drives our company today.”
In one of the company’s first projects, Immuneering uncovered some of the mechanisms behind an early cancer immunotherapy developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb. In another, they studied the workings of Teva Pharmaceuticals’ drug for multiple sclerosis.
As Immuneering continued working on successful drugs, they began to notice some counterintuitive patterns.
“A lot of the conventional wisdom is to focus on DNA,” Zeskind says. “But what we saw over and over across many different projects was that transcriptomics, or which genes are turned on when — something you measure through RNA levels — was the thing that was most frequently informative about how a drug was working. That ran counter to conventional wisdom.”
In 2018, as Immuneering continued helping companies appreciate that idea in drugs that were already working, it decided to start developing medicines designed from the start to go after disease signals.
In January, Immuneering closed an oversubscribed $62m Series B round. The financing was led by Cormorant Asset Management. Surveyor Capital, Rock Springs Capital, as well as funds and accounts managed by BlackRock and Perceptive Advisors, among others, also participated in the round.
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