Although recombinant IL-2 was a cancer immunotherapy long before checkpoint inhibitors came on the scene, the cytokine's impact was limited by its potential for lethal side effects. Most attempts to lower toxicity also decreased efficacy. Now, a Washington University in St. Louis team has presented a strategy that not only avoids the adverse events but boosts efficacy, and has spun out Courier Therapeutics Inc. to take it to the clinic.
Company founder Alexander Krupnick, who led the study while at Wash U, told BioCentury that while the cancer immunotherapy field has largely abandoned IL-2, with only a handful of companies still trying to tweak the protein, he thinks the approach still holds promise. Krupnick is now an associate professor of surgery at University of Virginia.