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Intrexon and ZIOPHARM to Develop Immunotherapies for Treatment of Graft-Versus-Host Disease

Companies Form New Collaboration to Pursue Cellular Therapy Approaches to Autoimmune Disorder

Companies to Host Conference Call and Webcast Slide Presentation Today at 5:00 PM ET

GERMANTOWN, Md. and BOSTON, Sept. 28, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Intrexon Corporation (NYSE:XON), a leader in synthetic biology, announced today it has formed a new Exclusive Channel Collaboration (ECC) with ZIOPHARM Oncology, Inc. (Nasdaq:ZIOP), a biopharmaceutical company focused on new cancer immunotherapies, for the treatment and prevention of graft-versus-host disease (GvHD), a major complication of allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) which significantly impairs the quality of life and survival of many recipients. The collaboration will focus on addressing the underlying pathologies of GvHD through engineered cell platforms to express and deliver interleukin-2 (IL-2), a cytokine critical for modulation of the immune system.

"The combined expertise and the knowledge gained from our current research programs with Intrexon in adoptive T-cell therapies and cytokine modulation for treatment of cancer, position us well to develop and implement therapeutic approaches addressing an area of high unmet medical need for patients with GvHD," said Laurence Cooper, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of ZIOPHARM.

Through the ECC, the companies plan to pursue engineered cell therapy strategies, used either separately or in combination, for targeted treatment of GvHD. The first approach is infusion of regulatory T cells (Tregs) conditionally expressing IL-2 utilizing Intrexon's proprietary gene control approaches such as its RheoSwitch® platform. The second is deployment of orally-delivered microbe-based ActoBiotics® therapeutics expressing IL-2 to modulate immune function.

Allogeneic HSCT is used for the treatment of various diseases including hematological malignancies, immunological deficiencies as well as non-malignant conditions. Approximately 40 to 60% of HSCT recipients develop GvHD, either acute or chronic, when immune (graft) cells in a transplant patient recognize their engrafted host as foreign and attack the patient's (host) cells.

Immunosuppressive agents and systemic steroids...