ZIOPHARM Announces Sleeping Beauty Non-Viral Gene Transfer Technology Featured in Nature Medicine

BOSTON, Jan. 11, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- ZIOPHARM Oncology, Inc. (Nasdaq:ZIOP), a biopharmaceutical company focused on new cancer immunotherapies, today announced that its Sleeping Beauty non-viral gene transfer technology was featured in a perspectives article in the January 2016 issue of the journal Nature Medicine (Volume 22, Number 1, 26–36), titled “Prospects for gene-engineered T cell immunotherapy for solid cancers”.

The article describes how adoptive transfer of receptor-engineered T cells has produced “impressive results in treating B-cell leukemias and lymphomas,” but that effective treatment of solid cancers using a similar approach based upon pursuing shared tumor antigens is unlikely. It suggests that the success of cell-based immunotherapies for solid tumors may come from the “arduous task of targeting the unique set of mutations that cause each patient’s cancer.” Because of the challenges of achieving this goal, the authors note that nonviral integration systems can be considerably cheaper to manufacture and easier to implement for single-use applications compared with viral vectors and that, among these, Sleeping Beauty has advanced farthest in clinical development.

The Sleeping Beauty transposon-transposase is a unique non-viral system for introducing genes encoding T-cell receptors and chimeric antigen receptors into lymphocytes that was exclusively licensed to ZIOPHARM and its collaboration partner, Intrexon Corporation (NYSE:XON), through an agreement with the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“Implementing immunotherapy for solid tumors goes hand-in-hand with generating individualized T-cell therapies. To move beyond shared targets on the cell surface of liquid tumors to more complex, multifaceted targets within solid tumors requires a robust set of technologies to take advantage of antigen discovery,” said Laurence Cooper, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of ZIOPHARM. “Sleeping Beauty is a clinical platform unlike any other, both in its stage of development and flexibility for the implementation of low cost, personalized T-cell therapies. Along with other technologies developed with our partners and collaborators, it has the potential to play a key role accessing tumor-associated antigens at the individual level thereby translating the enormous promise of adoptive cell therapy to all cancers.”

About ZIOPHARM Oncology, Inc.:

ZIOPHARM Oncology is a Boston, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company employing novel gene expression, control and cell technologies to deliver safe, effective and scalable cell- and viral-based therapies for the treatment of cancer. The Company's synthetic immuno-oncology programs, in collaboration with Intrexon Corporation (NYSE:XON) and the MD Anderson Cancer Center, include chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) and other adoptive cell based approaches that use non-viral gene transfer methods for broad scalability. The Company is advancing programs in multiple stages of development together with Intrexon Corporation's RheoSwitch Therapeutic System® technology, a switch to turn on and off, and more precisely modulate gene expression in order to improve therapeutic index. The Company's pipeline includes a number of cell-based therapeutics in both clinical and preclinical testing which are focused on hematologic and solid tumor malignancies.

Forward-Looking Safe-Harbor Statement:

This press release contains certain forward-looking information about ZIOPHARM Oncology, Inc. that is intended to be covered by the safe harbor for "forward-looking statements" provided by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended. Forward-looking statements are statements that are not historical facts, and in some cases can be identified by terms such as "may," "will," "could," "expects," "plans," "anticipates," and "believes." These statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding the progress, timing and results of preclinical and clinical trials involving the Company's drug candidates, and the progress of the Company's research and development programs. All of such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, many of which are difficult to predict and generally beyond the control of the Company, that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to: whether chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR T) approaches, Ad-RTS-IL-12, TCR and NK cell-based therapies, or any of our other therapeutic candidates will advance further in the pre-clinical or clinical trials process and whether and when, if at all, they will receive final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or equivalent foreign regulatory agencies and for which indications; whether chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR T) approaches, Ad-RTS-IL-12, TCR and NK cell-based therapies, and our other therapeutic products will be successfully marketed if approved; the strength and enforceability of our intellectual property rights; competition from other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies; and the other risk factors contained in our periodic and interim SEC reports filed from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including but not limited to, our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2014, and our Quarterly Reports on Form 10Q for the quarters ended March 31, 2015, June 30, 2015 and September 30, 2015. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements that speak only as of the date hereof, and we do not undertake any obligation to revise and disseminate forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof, or to reflect the occurrence of or non-occurrence of any events.


RheoSwitch Therapeutic System® (RTS®) technology is a registered trademark of Intrexon Corporation.

Lori Ann Occhiogrosso
ZIOPHARM Oncology, Inc.

David Pitts
Argot Partners