HOUSTON—7 Hills Pharma, a privately-held immunotherapy company focused on development of novel tumor-targeting cell adhesion agents, announced today that it has been awarded a $2-million Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
This is the second NIH grant awarded to the company for the advancement of its integrin activator. The first grant supported the successful completion of the proof-of-concept study. The SBIR award is based on a competitive federal grant program aimed at supporting scientific excellence and technological innovation. The NIH grant is in addition to $4 million in seed capital provided to 7 Hills from private investors.
“We are honored by the NCI’s support of our important work in making tough-to-treat, non-immunogenic solid tumors more susceptible to antitumor attacks by the immune system and check point inhibitors,” said Dr. Upendra Marathi, president and CEO of 7 Hills. “With this funding and the financial support from our angel investors, we plan to conduct key IND-enabling preclinical studies for our lead compound 7HP349 and related compounds for the treatment of drug resistant tumors with defective T cell-tumor cell adhesion.”
“The fundamental problem in disease progression with cancer is that solid tumors evade the immune system by preventing the infiltration, function and ultimate attack of T cells and other tumoricidal immune cells,” said Dr. Darren Woodside, co-founder of 7 Hills and chairman of the NIH Innovative Immunology Research Study Section. “It’s an adhesion problem. We have known that solid tumors create an immunosuppressive microenvironment that prevents killer T cells from adhering to the tumor blood vessel lining and working their way into the tumor to do their job. 7 Hills is optimizing novel integrin activators to address and reverse the inherent tumor protective environment, promoting T-cell destruction of the tumor while maintaining a favorable overall safety profile by leveraging the natural biological mechanism of integrins.”