Endocyte: Working to give Physicians the Power of Precision Medicine

Endocyte is a biopharmaceutical company established in 1996 and headquartered in West Lafayette, Indiana, in the Purdue Research Park. The company is the leader in developing targeted therapies for the treatment of cancer. Endocyte uses drug conjugation technology to create novel therapeutics and companion imaging agents for personalized targeted therapies.

Endocyte is advancing the first technology platform for the creation of small molecule drug conjugates (SMDCs), which consist of a small molecule linked to a potent drug, and is developing a pipeline of SMDCs together with non-invasive companion imaging agents for cancer, inflammatory diseases and kidney disease (autosomal-dominant polycystic kidney disease/ADPKDor PKD).

The company has the vision and value to seek precision in medicine for better patient outcomes. “Our vision is to make precision medicine available to physicians and patients for the treatment of cancers and other difficult-to-treat diseases,” explains the President and Chief Executive Officer of Endocyte, Mike Sherman. In 2011 the company completed successfully an initial public offering.

The technology at Endocyte is based on research first published in 1991. Philip Low, Ph.D., and Christopher Leamon, Ph.D., biochemists at Purdue University, were the first to discover a mechanism to exploit the folate receptors as a means to deliver bioactive molecules inside cells. Recognizing the potential of receptor-targeted therapeutics, Dr. Low, P. Ron Ellis, and investors joined together to establish Endocyte. The management and board of directors of Endocyte guide the continuing research, partnerships, and drug development, including a growing pipeline of products.

Precision in Medicine

Today, the company is working to provide clinicians with an accurate and improved way to select the patients who may receive the greatest benefit from a particular therapy. Because its values are founded on improving the health of patients, Endocyte strives to achieve targeted drug delivery to diseased cells to improve the effectiveness of therapy and reduce undesirable side effects. 

“We will continue to research and develop new therapies and companion imaging agents. Our goal is to empower physicians and improve outcomes for as many patients as possible,” notes Sherman. Although great progress has been made in the development of new drugs to treat cancer and other serious illnesses, it is still difficult to predict if a patient will respond positively to existing therapies. In addition, therapies are often administered at suboptimal doses because of their effects on healthy tissues.

Addressing these challenges through precision medicine has been Endocyte’s mission since the very beginning. Physicians aspire to treat patients with precision medicine, and Endocyte is committed to giving them the tools to do it.

Combining Technologies in a Powerful new way

Two decades of research and development in the biology of cancer and other diseases have given the company a deep understanding of diseased cell biology that helps it functionally profile specific types of cells that may respond best to SMDC therapies. It then pairs its SMDCs with companion imaging agents with the goal of enabling timely treatment decisions for patients.

“Our process matches the biology of a diseased cell with a high-affinity, small molecule targeting ligand that selectively binds to the diseased cell’s receptors. We then use proprietary linker systems to securely attach the drug to the small molecule targeting ligand, which carries the drug or imaging agent into the diseased cell,” says Sherman. This proprietary platform offers the opportunity to use a variety of ligands, releasable linkers, and drugs to create a pipeline of novel SMDC candidates and companion imaging agents for clinical development.

Technology like no other

The novel therapeutics at Endocyte are designed to precisely deliver potent cancer therapies directly to the site of disease. Paired with companion imaging agents, this approach allows the company to select the appropriate patient for the therapy, treating their disease while sparing healthy tissues.

Endocyte’s Precision medicine seeks to deliver potent therapy to diseased cells while minimizing the impact on healthy cells. The proprietary approach is the first to combine small molecule drug conjugate (SMDC) technology with companion imaging agents to assist in therapy selection. “More recently, we have expanded our targeting technology to include advancements in both radioligand therapies (RLT) as well as chimeric antigen T-cell therapies (CAR-T),” announces Sherman. Several of Endocyte’s targeted therapeutic and imaging agents are already in the development pipeline as well as in clinical trials for a wide range of cancers and other serious diseases.

Taking advantage of the small molecular size and high tissue penetration of its cancer-targeting molecules, Endocyte has expanded its technology platform to include radioligand therapies (RLT). In this modality, a high-affinity cancer targeting ligand is attached to a therapeutic radioactive atom, such as lutetium-177 or actinium-225. Once injected into a patient, Endocyte’s RLTs home to tumors while largely bypassing healthy cells. Within the tumor, the radioactive atoms release energetic particles to precisely deliver a lethal dose of radiation to the cancer cells with minimal side effects to surrounding healthy tissue. PSMA-617, which targets prostate-specific membrane antigen on prostate cancer, is Endocyte’s most advanced RLT in clinical trials around the world.

Meet the Innovator of Endocyte

Mike A. Sherman is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Endocyte. Mike Sherman joined Endocyte in 2006 and was recently named Chief Executive Officer and President. Sherman previously served as a chief operating officer and chief financial officer. Prior to joining Endocyte, Sherman served in various executive roles, most recently as vice president of finance and strategic planning of Guidant Corporation, a cardiovascular device manufacturer acquired by Boston Scientific Corporation, a medical device company. He holds a BA in economics from DePauw University and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Sherman serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. He also served on the Board of Directors at Mead Johnson Nutrition.

“Our novel therapeutics are designed to precisely deliver potent cancer therapies directly to the site of disease.”

“Our goal is to empower physicians and improve outcomes for as many patients as possible.”