March Biosciences (March Bio), a clinical stage biotechnology company committed to combating challenging cancers unresponsive to existing immunotherapies, and Cancer Focus Fund, LP, a unique investment fund established in collaboration with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MD Anderson) to provide funding and clinical expertise to advance promising cancer therapies, today announced that Cancer Focus Fund is investing $4.8 million in funding and providing clinical support for March Bio’s upcoming Phase 2 clinical trial of MB-105 for the treatment of relapsed T-cell leukemias and lymphomas.
MB-105 is a chimeric antigen receptor-T cell (“CAR-T”) therapy targeting CD5, a protein that is widely expressed in both normal and malignant T-cells, including T-cell associated leukemias and lymphomas. This has limited its use as a target for cancer therapies, since healthy T-cells needed for normal immune system functioning would be destroyed along with the malignant T-cells. MB-105 has been specially engineered to preserve healthy T-cells while maintaining its potency against CD5 positive tumor cells. In an ongoing Phase 1 trial conducted by the Baylor College of Medicine Cell and Gene Therapy Center, MB-105 has demonstrated a favorable safety profile and encouraging early efficacy results in both relapsed T-cell lymphoma and T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients.
The prognosis is poor for patients with relapsed or refractory T-cell leukemias and lymphomas, with more than 85% dying within months of relapse. The use of later lines of salvage therapies and advances in targeted cancer therapies has not affected these dismal outcomes, with long-term survival of less than 10%. Relapsed patients who are able to achieve a second remission and proceed to a subsequent stem cell transplant have better results, but therapeutic options for achieving a second remission are severely limited, underscoring the urgent need for innovative solutions.
Sarah Hein, co-founder and CEO of March Biosciences, commented, “As a Houston-invented and headquartered biotech developing an innovative cancer therapy manufactured in collaboration with Houston’s CTMC, we are delighted that the Cancer Focus Fund is investing in our upcoming clinical trial. We believe MB-105 has the potential to become the foremost, first-in-class life-saving therapy for relapsed T-cell lymphoma patients, who have limited treatment options. We also welcome the opportunity to work with Cancer Focus Fund and MD Anderson to advance the clinical program for MB-105. The breadth and quality of the support we are receiving from our local partners and institutions underscore Houston’s increasing prominence as a worldwide leader in cancer R&D and clinical research.”
The Phase 2, open label, multi-center trial will assess MB-105 in patients with CD5-positive relapsed/refractory T-cell lymphoma. Patients will receive one dose of MB-105 and will be followed for a minimum of 12 months.
“March Bio’s highly innovative approach to overcoming a key limitation of CAR-T therapy is emblematic of the breakthrough science that Cancer Focus Fund was established to support,” said Ross Barrett, a founder and Managing Partner of Cancer Focus Fund. “This young company impresses with the strength of its management and science teams, including global leaders in the development of CAR-T therapies. It has already forged valuable partnerships and is advancing MB-105 with the urgency we prize in our portfolio companies. We also are pleased to be investing in a promising biotech firm with such strong roots in our Houston life sciences community.”