cCam: A Personalized MAb for Melanoma

Yervoy, the first FDA approved drug for metastatic melanoma, hit the market during the past year with first quarter sales of more than $100 million. This has led analysts to make projections of an eventual $6 billion in annual sales. The strong demand for the Bristol-Myers Squibb drug, also suggests a highly promising future for a similar drug being developed by cCam Biotherapeutics.

While Yervoy is effective in only about 5-20 percent of metastatic melanoma cases, cCam’s drug, a monoclonal antibody known as CM-10, is expected to be effective in more than 60 percent of patients eligible for treatment.

CM-10 derives from research suggesting that tumor cells leverage the CEACAM1 gene in order to evade detection and attack by the body’s immune system. cCam’s technology disrupts communication between the tumor cells and CEACAM1, enabling the immune system’s battery of NK and T cells to destroy the tumor cells. Unlike Yervoy, CM-10 is tumor-site-specific and does not lead to a general activation of the immune system and ensuing adverse side effects. A major advantage of cCam’s technology, notes CEO Tehila Ben-Moshe, is that the company expects to be able to identify patients that will respond to its therapy through advance screening.

This personalized medicine approach can be expected to lead to an efficient and relatively fast progression through clinical trials.

cCam’s technology may also be effective in the treatment of pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, multiple myeloma and other cancers.

The company’s core technology is derived from discoveries made by Dr. Gal Markel and Prof. Jacob Schachter of the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, as well as by PhD student Rona Ortenberg of Tel Aviv University. cCam was founded two years ago in the Meytav Technological Incubator in order to commercialize Dr. Markel’s proprietary research.

Prior to joining cCam, Tehila Ben- Moshe directed pre-clinical studies at Protalix and did her doctorate at the Weizmann Institute under the tutelage of David Wallach, the inventor of the technology that led to the blockbuster Enbrel drug. She is the founder of the Israel MAB forum, a group of researchers from about 15 Israeli companies that meet informally for information exchange and seminars.

cCam is based in Kiryat Shmona and chaired by Silvia Noiman, an experienced biotech entrepreneur, who founded Predix (Epix), Fusimab and Promining Therapeutics, and oversees the activities of other companies as a venture partner at the Pontifax venture capital fund.

cCAM has raised $1.1 million to date with funding from the Office of the Chief Scientist and the strategic collaboration between Pontfax and Roche. The company is currently undertaking a private placement in order to conduct clinical trials.

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