Verismo Therapeutics Lab Space at CIC Philadelphia Will Boost R&D Efforts for KIR-CAR Platform

Verismo Therapeutics opened a new Research and Development Center at CIC Philadelphia to advance the development to boost the R&D and process development capabilities of the Philadelphia-based company and advance its novel KIR-CAR platform.

The new lab space will allow the company to progress its pipeline with minimal delay and expenditure. The CIC Philadelphia-based lab space, which has undergone a recent expansion to double the number of available benches, will serve as one of Verismo’s in-house translational research and process development work. The work conducted at the site will support the ongoing activities for the SynKIR-110 clinical trial and future pipeline products including SynKIR-210 and SynKIR-310.

In a brief statement, Verismo Chief Executive officer Bryan Kim said the new R&D space will advance the company’s internal capabilities and allow the researchers to enhance Verismo’s Rapid Concept-to-Clinic Pipeline (RCCP) program. Kim said this approach has allowed the company “to go from founding to clinic in less than two years.”

The new R&D center will significantly boost Verismo’s current capabilities. Dr. Jun Xu, senior director of translational service at Verismo Therapeutics, said the company’s current lab space consists of three benches. But the expanded space at CIC Philadelphia will allow Verismo to expand in a modular fashion.

“As Verismo continues to grow and mature its pipeline, we plan to bring additional functions in-house. Bringing these activities in-house allow us to control the timelines and budget as well as giving us the flexibility to remain nimble with our pipeline,” Xu said. “This allows us to plan for success while not investing in too much capital to begin with.”

A University of Pennsylvania spin out, Verismo is developing CAR-T cell therapies for various tumor types with a low, five year life expectancy and is one of the nominees for BioBuzz’s 2022 “Breakthrough Life Science Company of the Year Award.”

The company’s lead asset is SynKIR-110, which is being assessed in patients with mesothelin expressing ovarian cancer, cholangiocarcinoma and mesothelioma. Verismo’s CAR-T therapies were developed with its KIR-CAR platform. Preclinical data shows that Verismo’s CAR-T therapies have been capable of maintaining antitumor T cell activity even in challenging solid tumor environments.

SynKIR-110 is expected to begin clinical testing in the first few months of 2023. In October, the company received clearance from the FDA to initiate its Phase I STAR-101 study. When Verismo Therapeutics begins to dose patients in the coming year, it will mark the first in-human study for Verismo’s SynKIR T cells. SynKIR-110 is backed by pre-clinical data that has shown enhanced efficacy in murine models with no additional safety concerns.

The Phase I trial will begin with dose escalation cohorts to determine safety and the maximum tolerated dose.

Raymond Luke, Director of Manufacturing Science and Technology at Verismo Therapeutics, said Verismo’s leading goal for the coming year will be to treat the first patient in the STAR-101 trial and continue to dose them as the year goes on.

“This a first-in-human study for the KIR-CAR T cell therapy and we are excited to see what this novel therapy will bring to patients,” Luke said. “We also plan to make good use of our new lab space by completing the pre-clinical studies needed to advance our SynKIR-310 pipeline into the clinic. And with that we will be growing our team, as needed, with more dedicated professionals that will allow us to continue to rapidly achieve milestones.”

Luke noted the company intends to file an Investigational New Drug application with the FDA by the end of 2023 for its second asset, SynKIR-310. This asset is in development for relapsed/remitting diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

The company also has SynKIR-210 in development for an undisclosed target. SynKIR-410 is in development for glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive and difficult-to-treat cancer that can occur in the brain or spinal cord. 

About 11 Verismo employees will be based at the new R&D center. As the needs of the company call for expansion at the new site, Dr. Pavel Aprelev, Director of Corporate Development at Verismo Therapeutics, said headcount will expand as necessary.