Bioniz - Science


Selective Inhibition of Functionally Redundant Cytokines

Bioniz leverages its leading expertise in cytokine biology, which originated in research conducted at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to discover novel small molecule peptides that selectively inhibit functionally redundant cytokines with targeted specificity.

Our small molecule peptides are designed to specifically inhibit functionally redundant cytokines by blocking their unique binding interface with their shared receptor. In this way, they act like larger bi-specific and multi-specific antibodies, with an important difference. They discriminate amongst specific cytokines that share a common receptor, while antibodies tend to block all cytokines that use a common receptor. This provides selective inhibition and leads to better target specificity and safety relative to the antibodies used today.

While our technology is applicable for a variety of cytokine families, our initial focus is on the IL-2 [also known as the gamma-c (gc)] family of cytokines, which consists of IL-2, IL-4, IL-7, IL-9, IL-15, & IL-21.

A Novel Therapeutic Approach to Functionally Redundant Cytokines

Each cytokine in this family has a unique receptor complex which consists of the common “gc-chain” as well as a “private chain” specific to that cytokine. The formation of a complete receptor complex is required for fully functional cytokine signaling. As the first step, the free cytokine binds to its private receptor. This binding positions the cytokine in a proper conformational position to reach the critical binding site of the common receptor, which triggers a downstream signaling cascade. 

Bionz’s BNZ-1 peptide binds to the common receptor (gamma) and blocks the binding interface of some of the gc cytokines, but not all of them. For example, BNZ-1 selectively inhibits IL-2, IL-9, and IL-15, but not IL-4, IL-7, and IL-21. This is accomplished in the design of BNZ, which inhibits the assembly of the full receptor complexes for those cytokines it targets while not interfering with the assembly of the complexes for those it does not inhibit.

Through our proprietary platform, we have created a pipeline of drug candidates for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases, driven by unregulated T-cell biology.

See Our Pipeline