Gene-Encoded Cancer “Biobetters”

Recombinant protein therapeutics (“cancer biologics”) play an important role in cancer treatment. These are proteins used to treat the cancer or to support a patient through therapy. Cancer biologics are mainly used in three ways:

  • Immunotherapy, where the drugs induce the body’s immune system to act against cancer cells;
  • Targeted therapy, where the drugs interfere with the ability of the tumor to grow and progress; and
  • Supportive therapy, where the drugs are used to ameliorate the effects of the treatment regimen.

The first cancer biologics were approved for clinical use in the 1990s, and since then dozens have entered into clinical use, including monoclonal antibodies, chemokines and cytokines, enzymes, and other proteins.


Gene-encoded therapeutics have the potential to make many cancer biologics easier to administer and available to more patients.

Cancer biologics are complex drugs that are typically produced at scale in manufacturing facilities that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build and require thousands of people to staff. These drugs typically require periodic re-dosing (weekly, biweekly, or monthly), and the introduction of proteins made in non-human (mammalian, bacterial, or fungal) cells can result in immune reactions against the protein.

Gene-encoded cancer biologics can significantly alter the paradigm of cancer biologics and bend the cost curve for these types of treatments, making them more cost-effective. Gene-encoded cancer biologics require significantly smaller doses and therefore reduce both manufacturing requirements and costs. The production of the protein in the body of the patient rather than in a factory can decrease the risk of immune responses against the therapeutic protein. Gene-encoded biologics are simpler to process, ship, and store. As injectibles, they would eliminate the infrastructure and costs associated with intravenous delivery, making it possible to deliver them to the patient in almost any clinical location.

SmartPharm’s approach is to engineer the sequence of these gene-encoded cancer biologics to further enhance their function over the current recombinant proteins, resulting in gene-encoded cancer “biobetters.”