23 Feb Minerva Biotechnologies
Cynthia Bamdad, Ph.D., CEO
Minerva Biotechnologies discovered that the growth and pluripotency of naïve stem cells is mediated by the same growth factor receptor, MUC1*, and growth factor, NME7AB, that mediate growth and metastatic potential of cancer cells. We elucidated the molecular mechanisms that limit stem cell self-replication but allow cancer cells to self-replicate indefinitely. We learned how to override the pluripotency/differentiation switch to make naïve stem cell proliferate, without spontaneous differentiation, until we trigger the switch. Conversely, we developed therapeutic agents that block MUC1* and others that block NME7AB, which block cancer growth. Minerva makes NME7AB-containing AlphaSTEM naïve stem cell media and a synthetic peptide that flips the switch to initiate differentiation. Minerva holds an FDA-approved IND for 1st-in-human trial for a CAR T that targets MUC1* for the treatment of metastatic breast cancers; trial is open at the Fred Hutchinson (NCT04020575). No therapeutic that targets MUC1* has ever been tested in humans.