Stimulator of interferon genes or STING, discovered by the laboratory of Glen N Barber in 2008, is one of the signaling proteins that is responsible for the transcription of genes associated with the innate immunity of an individual. Amidst the recent COVID-19 pandemic, it has become even more essential to strengthen the immune system. The response generated by the human immune system upon the identification of a foreign entity / molecule can primarily be classified into an innate response and an adaptive response. In recent years, promising insights from research on the cytosolic DNA sensing (cGAS -STING) pathway has caused a lot of enthusiasm within medical science community. Basically, the STING pathway offers an alternative approach to harness the immune system, in order to pharmacologically treat a number of clinical conditions, including oncological and autoimmune disorders. Such therapeutic benefits can be achieved by modulating the STING / cGAS-pathway. CDNs present in bacteria and cGAS proteins are capable of activating the STING pathway.
Over the years, a number of such modulators, capable of either activating or downregulating the STING pathway, have been developed. More than 50 experimental interventions based on this relatively novel concept are currently being developed for the treatment of oncological, autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. The popularity of STING pathway modulation and growing interest of drug developers in this upcoming field of therapeutics is evident in the rising volume of affiliated scientific literature (1,000+ related articles on NCBI’s PubMed portal since 2015).
Current Pipeline of STING pathway targeting therapeutics
During our research, we were able to identify 54 unique therapeutics and 24 technologies that are being developed for targeting STING pathway. The market for therapeutics targeting STING pathway is presently dominated by the presence of agonist molecules (78%). Further, most of the therapeutics are currently in the discovery (38%) stage, followed by those being evaluated in preclinical (37%) and clinical phase of development (25%).
Majority of the development programs are focused on the treatment of oncological disorders, followed by autoimmune disorders and inflammatory disorders. Some examples of STING-based therapeutics being developed for the treatment of various oncological disorders include (in alphabetical order) ADU-S100 (MIW815), BMS-986301, GSK3745417 and MK-1454.
We also came across 24 unique technologies targeting the STING pathway that are being developed by 23 pharma players, and about 87% of these technologies were employed for the development of STING agonists. Among the technology developers, majority (70%) are based in North America, followed by Europe (17%) and Asia-Pacific (13%).
Over the last few years, the industry has witnessed a steady increase in funding activity. It is worth mentioning that, since 2015, at least 14 financing instances have been reported each year across the globe. Additionally, several investors have actively participated in various funding rounds to help propel the growth in this industry, foreseeing the future potential of this novel domain. The overall trend of funding activity in the STING pathway targeting therapeutics and technologies market has been extremely positive. Specifically, in the last two years, several multi-million-dollar investments were carried out for companies, such as (in decreasing order of amount invested) iTeos Therapeutics (USD 200 million), Synlogic (USD 138 million) and Trillium Therapeutics (USD 117 million).
For further information on this emerging domain, check out the following report: