Natalie Winblade Nairn
Director, Formulation and Peptide Drug Discovery, Blaze Bioscience
Tozuleristide, a knottin-fluorophore clinical candidate for real-time detection and visualization of tumor and tumor margins during resection surgery
Knotted disulfide-rich peptides are found throughout the kingdoms of life and have evolved diverse biological functions. Optimization of these knotted peptides (Optides) enables harnessing properties such as tissue targeting and penetration, protease resistance, and innate activities in the mid-sized medicine space. Tozuleristide (BLZ-100) is the first Optide that Blaze has brought into clinical development. It is an Optide-fluorophore conjugate that was designed to label tumor tissue after systemic administration, allowing real-time detection and visualization of tumor and tumor margins during surgical resection. The targeting peptide is derived from chlorotoxin, which is chemically conjugated to a derivative of the near-infrared fluorophore indocyanine green. Tozuleristide has been shown to detect a broad range of malignant tissues in Phase 1 clinical trials, including pediatric and adult brain, breast, and skin cancers, and has been well tolerated by patients. Screening and design programs have identified additional Optides with therapeutic potential for oncology, rheumatology, renal, and CNS indications. Discovery, development, and clinical data will be presented.