eTheRNA immunotherapies (eTheRNA)
eTheRNA is a clinical stage biotech company dedicated to the design of mRNA-based immunotherapies for cancer and infectious disease. eTheRNA was established in January 2013 as a spin-off company of the ‘Vrije Universiteit Brussel’ (VUB), Laboratory for Molecular and Cellular Therapy, headed by Prof. Kris Thielemans. In 2016 and 2019, eTheRNA immunotherapies secured its funding by a strong international syndicate of investors. eTheRNA’s proprietary mRNA-based TriMix technology boosts dendritic cells (DCs) – the crucial antigen presenting cells that prime T cells - leading to a more comprehensive, sustainable and safer enhancement of the patient’s immune system. Prior to the start of eTheRNA, clinical studies in melanoma patients showed the value of the TriMix technology. In a phase IIa study in advanced melanoma patients, treatment with autologous ex vivo generated dendritic cells electroporated with mRNA encoding tumor associated antigens and TriMix resulted in strong clinical responses, including 20% of patents showing a complete response. As the logistics and cost of ex vivo generated DC vaccines are daunting, the primary goal of eTheRNA is to develop TriMix into an injectable in vivo product, that can be made available "off-the-shelf" which makes it a commercially attractive and convenient option for various patient populations. eTheRNA’s business strategy is focused on moving a full spectrum of applications forward: intranodal (IN), intravenous (IV), and intratumoral (IT) into a range of different products and clinical applications. In a phase IIa trial in advanced melanoma patients, treatment with autologous ex vivo generated dendritic cells electroporated with mRNA encoding tumor associated antigens and TriMix resulted in strong clinical responses, including 20% of patents showing a complete response. eTheRNA is currently performing a phase I b study with their lead candidate ECI-006, in which TriMix mRNA alongside tumor associated antigen encoding mRNAs are directly injected into the lymph nodes of melanoma patients.
Role within EXPERT
- Therapeutic mRNA payload (WP3): eTheRNA has ample experience in the production of mRNA, including the production of GMP grade mRNA for clinical studies. eTheRNA will act as the supplier of high-quality mRNA for the whole consortium and will provide GMP grade TriMix mRNA to support the first-in-human study.
- Preclinical antitumor efficacy (WP10): eTheRNA has strong expertise in addressing the antitumor efficacy of mRNA immunotherapies in various preclinical tumor models. Besides addressing antitumor efficacy of lead formulations in murine models, eTheRNA will perform a thorough immune profiling of the lead mRNA formulation and unravel its mode of action.
- Clinical Study (WP11): eTheRNA has experience in running clinical studies with mRNA and in evaluating immune response data of patients participating in a clinical study with their lead candidate ECI-006.