cCAM Biotherapeutics: Innovation in Immunotherapy


Company: cCAM Biotherapeutics

Who is cCAM Biotherapeutics?
cCAM Biotherapeutics is one of the world’s leading innovators in the discovery and development of novel immunotherapies, which harness the patient’s own immune system in order to initiate or strengthen an anti-tumor response to wipe out cancer cells.  The company’s lead product, CM-24, is a monoclonal antibody which stimulates a patient’s immune system response by targeting the CEACAM1 control protein.

Established in 2010 by Professor Gal Merkel, Director of Research laboratories at the Ella Institute for Treatment and Research of Melanoma and Skin Cancer at the Sheba Medical Center, Merkel is aiming for CM-24 to be “the next generation of immuno-oncology drugs.” 

The Role of the Israel Innovation Authority
Under the executive leadership of Dr. Tehila Ben-Moshe, Ph.D., and with financing and entrepreneurial guidance from the Israeli Innovation Authority’s Incubator Incentive Program, cCAM secured $3 million in investment partnerships from leading biotech venture capital firms including Arkin, Orbimed, and Pontifax. This support was crucial in cCAM’s development of the CM-24 prototype.   

Successful Innovation

The Challenge
Today, cancer remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide. In fact, by 2025, new cancer cases worldwide are predicted to exceed 20 million annually! Until now, the limited nature of conventional cancer treatments has been well documented in the medical community.  While treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery can help to eradicate some cancer cells and tumors, many times cancerous tumors continue to grow because they manage to manipulate the body’s control proteins (also known as checkpoints) in ways that induce suppression of the immune system’s natural responses. This suppression allows tumors to grow unchecked.

The Innovation
cCAM Biotherapeutics’ CM-24 antibody can now counter this by inhibiting the activity of the CEACAM1 control protein, blocking the cancer’s interference with immune cells and ultimately mobilizing immune cells to attack the tumor.  On its own or combined with other drugs, CM-24 may provide impactful treatment for a range of cancers including melanoma, NSCLC, bladder, stomach, colon, and ovarian cancer!

Global Impact
In 2015, cCAM was acquired for $95 million from the American pharmaceutical company Merck, with provision for additional compensation up to $510 million, pending clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones. Merck’s reputation for innovation in immunotherapy precedes it, having previously released the drug Keytruda, a PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor which has been proven to increase lifespan in cancer patients. Merck’s confidence in cCAM represents a significant milestone for Israeli biotechnologies and medicine.  CM-24 was approved by the FDA for phase 1 clinical trials in 2015.