NEW YORK – Following a recent leadership change, glycoproteomics firm InterVenn Biosciences is reevaluating its commercial strategy and direction.
The South San Francisco, California-based company is still developing its blood-based test for colorectal cancer but has stopped sales of several other products. The firm also plans to develop a service offering through which customers in markets like pharma and liquid biopsy can access its GlycoVision glycoproteomics platform, said new CEO Joshua Stahl.
Stahl replaced Erwin Estigarribia as InterVenn's CEO in August. Estigarribia had served as CEO only since the beginning of the year, taking over at that time for Aldo Carrascoso, a company cofounder.
Stahl was previously CSO and chief operating officer at ArcherDx, and subsequently served as president of oncology of Invitae after it acquired ArcherDx in 2020.
Discussing InterVenn's current direction, Stahl said the company is "taking time to figure out the exact path," but said it plans to "push forward with [its] GlycoVision platform," applying it across "all sorts of indications, through partnerships and otherwise."
InterVenn launched in March 2018 to commercialize glycoproteomic analysis methods developed by University of California, Davis professor Carlito Lebrilla and Stanford University professor Carolyn Bertozzi, both cofounders of the firm. Bertozzi won the 2022 Nobel Prize in chemistry for her work using click chemistry to study cellular glycosylation.
Protein glycosylation, in which sugars modify various amino acids, is a common post-translational modification and an important phenomenon in the biology of various diseases, including many cancers. Given this, researchers have long considered glycoproteins to have high potential as biomarkers, and, in fact, more than half of the cancer protein markers currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration are glycoproteins.
InterVenn uses mass spectrometry and machine learning for its glycoproteomic analyses, looking for altered protein glycosylation patterns linked to disease states.
Stahl noted that the company's glycoproteomic signatures appear in many cases to be detecting immune responses to disease, distinguishing them from other biomarker discovery approaches based on identifying, for instance, nucleic acids or proteins shed by a tumor.
The ability to detect the body's immune response could potentially allow InterVenn to detect early-stage conditions, such as precancerous lesions, with higher sensitivity and specificity than existing approaches, Stahl said. Immune response could also be useful for applications around cancer immunotherapy, which is another area of focus for the company.
In August, researchers from InterVenn published a BioRxiv preprint in which they demonstrated that glycosylation levels of the immune checkpoint inhibitor PD-1 differed in non-small cell lung cancer patients depending on their stage of disease.
In June, researchers from the company, Massachusetts General Hospital, the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, and elsewhere published a study in Frontiers in Immunology in which they used the GlycoVision platform to develop a glycoproteomic classifier for predicting benefit of immunotherapy in metastatic melanoma patients.
InterVenn also recently published a study in Gastroenterology detailing development work for its GlycoKnow Colon assay, a blood-based early detection test for colorectal cancer.
The company is in the middle of a 3,000-patient prospective study to validate the test. Called the Noninvasive Identification of CRC and Adenomas in Early Stages (NICE) study, the effort is using the GlycoKnow Colon assay to screen a population at high risk for colorectal cancer with the aim of showing that the test could improve upon the performance of existing noninvasive tests for detecting advanced adenomas in high-risk individuals. Data from the study, presented at the American College of Gastroenterology annual meeting in October, showed test sensitivity of 85 percent for stage I and II colorectal cancers and 90 percent for advanced adenomas with high-grade dysplasia.
GlycoKnow Colon is InterVenn's lead product, though Stahl said the company has not "fully made the decision of what we are going to do with that asset at this point." He said that while it plans to continue its development, it has not decided if it will try to bring it to market on its own or through a deal with an outside company.
Stahl said the company has decided to move away from two assays it was previously offering as laboratory-developed tests, its GLORI test for triaging pelvic masses and its DAWN IO Melanoma test for predicting patient response to immunotherapies. Each had, at different points in time, been the firm's primary focus, but Stahl said it has stopped sales of the tests, deciding instead "to focus on our [colorectal cancer test] in addition to the GlycoVision platform as a whole."
"The glycoproteome presents a very new, novel, and powerful biomarker, and that biomarker is relevant to hundreds of different applications," Stahl said, noting that for certain applications, the company still hopes to develop biomarkers and tests internally and bring them to market but that it is also prioritizing development of a services business and partnerships with external users.
"Our hope is to allow [the platform] to be used by researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and otherwise in order to move the field forward," he said.
"We're really looking for strategic partnerships both in [immuno-oncology] as well as in the diagnostics space," said Daan Hommes, InterVenn's chief medical officer. He cited the company's work in areas including colorectal cancer, melanoma, and NSCLC.
"We're not in the business of trying to develop all of these assets on our own … but we're trying to establish proof points that for these disease areas the host response is really relevant," he said.
Hommes declined to name any external parties that are using the GlycoVision platform for research work but said the company is focused on potential customers in both academia and pharma interested in biomarker and drug target development.