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ImmuneSensor Therapeutics is developing novel medicines that target the cGAS (cyclic GMP-AMP synthase) – STING (stimulator of interferon genes) pathway to modulate the innate immune system. Based on groundbreaking discoveries from the lab of Dr. Zhijian “James” Chen, Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and an HHMI Investigator, we are developing STING activators to boost anticancer immunity and inhibitors to suppress autoimmunity when it is overactive. We are currently conducting a first-in-human Phase 1 clinical study with our lead asset, a small molecule STING activator to treat solid tumors. Our pipeline includes 2nd-generation STING activators, as well as STING inhibitors for the treatment of autoimmune disease.

Our Technology Platform

Leveraging the cGAS-cGAMP-STING Pathway

The Chen group unraveled a century old medical mystery when it discovered the DNA sensor cGAS, and its product cGAMP, and their roles in activating an innate immune defense. The team illuminated the cellular process that occurs when cGAS detects and binds to DNA that has leaked into the cytoplasm—either from pathogens or damaged tumor cells—generating a second messenger, cGAMP, which, in turn, activates the protein STING to produce inflammatory agents, inducing a powerful adaptive immune response. The group also found that when cGAS binds to one’s own DNA in the cytosol of a cell and the pathway becomes overactivated, it can trigger autoimmune diseases. These discoveries, which garnered the 2018 Lurie Prize, the 2019 Breakthrough Prize, and 2019 Switzer Prize for biomedical research, form the technological foundation for ImmuneSensor’s drug development efforts.

Our Clinic-Ready Lead Asset

IMSA101

IMSA101 is a small molecule analogue of the STING agonist cGAMP, being developed to treat cancer. More potent than the naturally-occurring cGAMP, IMSA101 was designed to activate STING with high specificity, stimulating type-1 interferons and other cytokines to turn “cold” tumors to “hot,” eliciting a powerful antitumor attack. By directly stimulating STING, IMSA101 is able to override key immunosuppressive mechanisms in the tumor microenvironment and warm up cold tumors for immune response. In preclinical studies, IMSA101 demonstrated highly effective inhibition of tumor growth alone and in combination with checkpoint inhibitors, including tumors resistant to PD-1 and PD-L1.

Leadership Team

Qingsong ‘Jet’ Li

Founder & Interim Chief Executive Officer

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Edward Garmey, M.D.

Interim Chief Medical Officer

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Teresa Mooneyham

Senior Director, Clinical Operations and Project Management

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Lijun “Josh” Sun

Director of Biology

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Jian Qiu, Ph.D.

Director of Chemistry

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