Site Specific Immunomodulators (SSIs), Qu Biologics’ proprietary technology platform, is a novel class of immunotherapies designed for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune disease. Rather than targeting the cancer cells, Qu Biologics’ SSIs are being developed to target the patient’s own immune cells within the tumour microenvironment, with the goal of stimulating them to attack the tumour. In autoimmune disease, Qu believes that rather than treating the symptoms, SSIs may potentially be able to reverse a defect in immune cell function, with the goal of enabling the immune system to clear damaged cells, and thus remove the stimuli which maintain the chronic inflammation underlying the symptoms.
SSIs are being developed with the goal of treating in a site specific manner. Each SSI contains inactivated bacterial components from a single bacterial species known to be a common cause of infection in a particular organ or tissue, such as the lungs, colon or skin. Depending on the type of cancer or autoimmune disease, a corresponding SSI treatment is selected to potentially target the organ/tissue in which the disease is active. For example, an SSI derived from a bacterial species that commonly causes lung infections in humans may potentially treat patients with lung cancer and metastases to the lung, but not patients with colorectal cancer or malignant melanoma. Similarly, an SSI derived from a type of bacteria commonly found in the human colon would be a potential treatment for patients with inflammatory bowel disease, but not lung cancer or rheumatoid arthritis.
SSIs and Cancer
Several studies have shown an inverse correlation between the frequency of acute bacterial infection and the risk of cancer. While these data do not mean a cause and effect relationship, this correlation has led to the hypothesis that the more acute infections you have, the less likely you may be to develop certain types of cancer. Understanding this link between the immune system and cancer has led to the development of a potential new form of immunotherapy, namely Site Specific Immunomodulation.
SSIs and Autoimmune Disease
With growing evidence that immune cell dysfunction may underlie a variety of autoimmune diseases, Qu Biologics has begun exploring the potential of using SSIs to treat the chronic inflammation that is at the root of autoimmune disease. Inflammation is part of the normal biological response to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens (i.e., infectious agents that causes disease or illness to their host, often referred to as ‘germs’), damaged or infected cells, or irritants. However, sometimes the inflammation process can become deregulated, leading to prolonged, chronic inflammation. When this happens, there is a progressive shift in the type of cells present in the affected tissue, resulting in simultaneous tissue destruction and healing. This process leads to the symptoms that characterize autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and rheumatoid arthritis. Qu Biologics’ scientists hypothesize that SSIs could potentially recruit fully functional immune cells to the diseased tissue, where they would remove the antigenic trigger and thus eliminate the underlying source of the inflammation, leading to resolution of symptoms.