Memgen's Goal: To substantially improve cancer patient survival with our viral cancer immunotherapies

Memgen's lead product, ISF35, is a first-in-class viral cancer immunotherapy encoding an optimized version of CD40 ligand.

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About Memgen

Memgen's ISF35 viral cancer immunotherapy is being combined with checkpoint inhibitors and other drug classes to potentially treat a broad range of cancer types including bladder cancer, metastatic melanoma, lymphoma, lung cancer, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Clinical trial protocols are ready for clinical collaboration with licensing options for the following ISF35 plus checkpoint inhibitor combination therapy trials:

  • Advanced/metastatic bladder cancer (Phase 1)
  • Metastatic melanoma refractory to checkpoint inhibitors (Phase 1/2)
  • Metastatic non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer with negative PD-L1 expression (Phase 1)
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma refractory to conventional therapies (Phase 1)

Preclinical research evaluating Memgen’s viral cancer immunotherapy ISF35 in combination with PD-1, PD-L1, and CTLA-4 checkpoint inhibitors is guiding the clinical development of ISF35. Preclinical studies have shown that ISF35 in combination with checkpoint inhibitors cures 40% of mice with an aggressive B16 melanoma tumor, and eradicates melanoma brain metastases. These anti-tumor responses are generated through multiple immune pathways, including induction of tumor-specific CD8+ T cells, dendritic cell priming, and generation of immunostimulatory cytokines, chemokines, and immune effector molecules. These data add to the extensive clinical experience of ISF35 in chronic lymphocytic leukemia where safety and activity have been demonstrated.

ISF35 has worldwide patent protection, qualifies for twelve years of US biologics marketing exclusivity, and has received orphan drug designation for advanced melanoma.


Robert Coates, Chief Executive Officer

Robert (Bob) Coates, Ph.D., co-founded and is the majority investor in Memgen. He majored in economics at the University of Virginia, graduating in three years with a B.A. with Distinction. He received his MBA and his Ph.D. in economics, finance, and accounting from the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business, where he studied under several Nobel Prize winners, including Milton Friedman. Dr. Coates is also an angel investor and adviser to software and healthcare startups.

Mark Cantwell, Chief Scientific Officer

Mark Cantwell, Ph.D., is a co-inventor of Memgen’s ISF35 technology. He has extensive research and industry experience in cancer immunotherapy drug discovery and development with a special focus on combination therapies. Prior to Memgen, Dr. Cantwell was employed at ADVENTRX Pharmaceuticals (currently Mast Therapeutics), a specialty pharmaceutical company, where he held the title of Vice President Research & Development in charge of product development of its oncology and infectious disease programs. Dr. Cantwell has a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California San Diego where he specialized in immunotherapy and gene therapy advancements.

Scientific Advisory Board

Scott J. Antonia, MD, PhD

Dr. Antonia is the Chair of the Thoracic Oncology Department at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida. He completed his graduate training at the University of Connecticut with a MD and PhD and then his residency, fellowship and postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Richard Flavell at Yale. Dr. Antonia has coauthored more than one hundred publications, including articles in The New England Journal of Medicine, Nature Immunology, Lancet Oncology and The Journal of Clinical Oncology and is one of the pioneers and leaders of the immunotherapy revolution in clinical oncology.

Just in the past year, fifteen of his manuscripts including corresponding roles have been published in Lancet Oncology, The Journal of Clinical Oncology, and Clinical Cancer Research. These influential studies have laid much of the foundation for the use of combinatorial interventions blocking different checkpoint inhibitory pathways in lung cancer patients and this in turn is revolutionizing the management of oncological patients and significantly increasing patient survival.

Dr. Antonia’s studies are rapidly becoming a reference for changing the standard of care in clinical practices in thoracic oncology as can be seen by his leadership role in multiple multi-center clinical trials as well as by his presentations at major international scientific meetings. In one of the most widely cited recent publications in oncology, Dr. Antonia demonstrated that the combination of nivolumab plus ipilimumab showed antitumor activity with durable responses and manageable safety profiles in previously treated patients with small cell lung cancer, a patient population that had previously had very limited treatment options.

Dr. Antonia directs a translational research program at Moffitt that is developing novel strategies and therapies for the treatment of cancer patients. The overall goal of this research program is to develop new combination immunotherapies for the treatment of lung cancer, using tumor vaccines or adoptive T cell therapies in combination with vaccine augmentations designed to thwart the immunosuppressive mechanisms used by tumors to evade T cell mediated eradication.

In addition to leading pivotal multi-center clinical trials, Dr. Antonia has extensive experience in conducting early-phase, first-in-human clinical trials testing therapeutic tumor vaccines and immunomodulatory antibodies and he has several patents for technology invented by him and his laboratory.

In 2015 Dr. Antonia was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors. He was named the Moffitt Physician of the Year in 2005 and Mentor of the Year in 2008. In 2014 and 2015 he was recognized as the “Most Cited Faculty” member and he was named Moffitt Researcher of the Year in 2016.
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ISF35 is a viral cancer immunotherapy encoding an optimized form of CD40 ligand. Direct intratumoral delivery of ISF35, a non-replicating adenovirus encoding CD40 ligand, activates tumor-specific T cells through immunostimulation of dendritic cells. ISF35 generates an effective anti-tumor immune response and complements checkpoint inhibitors, a class of immuno-oncology (IO) drugs that removes the brakes tumors attempt to use to stop a T cell anti-tumor immune response.

Mechanism of Action

Preclinical results for ISF35 in combination with checkpoint inhibitors have been presented at multiple scientific conferences:

Second CRI-CIMT-EATI-AACR International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference, September 25-28, 2016

Intratumoral CD40 activation and checkpoint blockade induces systemic anti-melanoma immunity that eradicates disseminated tumors
Manisha Singh, Christina Vianden, Adi Diab, Patrick Hwu, and Willem W. Overwijk.
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

2016 AACR Annual Meeting

Induction of systemic immunity through single-site intratumoral CD40 activation and checkpoint blockade eradicates melanoma in the brain
Manisha Singh, Christina Vianden, Adi Diab, Patrick Hwu, and Willem W. Overwijk.
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

30th Annual Meeting of the Society of Immunotherapy of Cancer

Induction of potent systemic anti-melanoma immunity through intratumoral CD40 activation and checkpoint blockade
Manisha Singh1, Zhimin Dai1, Hiep Khong1, Christina Vianden1, Mark Cantwell2, Willem Overwijk1
1University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
2Memgen, LLC, Houston, TX


Mar 23, 2017
ImmunoCellular Therapeutics and Memgen Announce Letter of Intent for Potential Joint Immuno-Oncology Collaboration

ImmunoCellular Therapeutics, Ltd. and Memgen, LLC announce the signing of a non-binding letter of intent to exclusively negotiate the terms to possibly establish an immuno-oncology strategic collaboration focused on conducting clinical trials combining the companies' respective cancer immunotherapy product candidates.

Nov 17, 2015
Memgen Announces Preclinical Results for ISF35 in Combination with Checkpoint Inhibitors in a Model of Metastatic Melanoma

Data was presented at the Society of Immunotherapy of Cancer’s (SITC) 30th Anniversary Annual Meeting in a poster presentation entitled Induction of Potent Systemic Anti-Melanoma Immunity through Intratumoral CD40 Activation and Checkpoint Blockade.

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