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.
Natalie Winblade Nairn has more than 17 years of experience advancing technology development in protein and peptide biopharmaceuticals and related fields with a goal of enabling products to improve human health. She is interested in strategic program development from innovative conception to clinic. In her current position at Blaze Bioscience, Dr. Nairn is responsible for drug product formulation and manufacturing as well as developing a therapeutic peptide pipeline through the Optide collaboration with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. She previously led chemistry, formulation, and protein biochemistry functions in the development of non-natural amino acid-containing protein conjugates at Allozyne. Her scientific expertise includes drug delivery and formulation, design of novel therapeutics, bioconjugation, and protein biochemistry. She is experienced in IP assessment and protection, partnership development, GMP outsourcing, process development, and regulatory documentation. Dr. Nairn earned her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from California Institute of Technology and her B.S. in chemical engineering at the University of Washington and is a co-author of numerous publications and issued US patents.