Phio Pharmaceuticals Announces Research Collaboration with Carisma Therapeutics to Evaluate its Self-Delivering RNAi Technology to Enhance Macrophage-Based Adoptive Cell Therapy

Collaboration may further expand the range of immune cells that can be 'weaponized' using Phio's gene silencing technology

MARLBOROUGH, MA, USA I September 9, 2019 I Phio Pharmaceuticals Corp. (NASDAQ: PHIO), a biotechnology company developing the next generation of immuno-oncology therapeutics based on its proprietary self-delivering RNAi (sd-rxRNA®) therapeutic platform, announced today that it has entered into a research collaboration with Carisma Therapeutics to evaluate the potential of Phio's self-delivering RNAi compounds to synergistically modify Carisma's chimeric antigen receptor macrophages (CAR-M).  Silencing of key genes using sd-rxRNA compounds may enhance the immune function of these cells as a novel adoptive cell therapy for use in cancer treatment.

"Overcoming local tumor immunosuppression remains a significant challenge in the treatment of cancer," said Dr. John A. Barrett, Chief Development Officer of Phio Pharmaceuticals. "We have established collaborations with several companies and academic institutions to validate our technology's ability to improve the activity of T cells, TILS, NK cells and dendritic cells towards tumors. Macrophages are sentinel cells of the innate immune system that robustly accumulate in most solid tumors. Combining Phio's gene silencing technology with Carisma's CAR-M technology has the potential to enhance aspects of macrophage anti-tumor activity and may further tip the scale in favor of an immunostimulatory phenotype and enhance tumor cell killing. We believe we can leverage both technologies to turn cold tumors hot and ultimately improve outcomes for patients."

Dr. Gerrit Dispersyn, Phio Pharmaceuticals' President and CEO stated "We are very excited to work with the Carisma Therapeutics team, which represents our first collaboration addressing macrophages utility as an immunotherapeutic. By combining Carisma's unique approach to adoptive cell therapy using CAR macrophages with our self-delivering RNAi technology, we expect to demonstrate potential synergies between our platforms that could enable us to bring new and improved forms of adoptive cell therapy to patients in the future. Our overall strategy in this setting is to generate robust data that validate our platform for the weaponization of a broad range of immune cells against tumors in order to generate future partnerships and build shareholder value."

"Metastatic solid tumors have been an intractable challenge for engineered cell therapies. Our platform technology, based on the genetically engineered macrophage, has a unique opportunity to provide benefit in this disease state," said Dr. Michael Klichinsky, co-Founder and Vice President of Discovery at Carisma. "We are excited to work with Phio to evaluate sd-rxRNA mediated silencing of genes that have the potential to enhance macrophage immunotherapy."

About Carisma Therapeutics Inc.

Carisma Therapeutics Inc. is biopharmaceutical company developing a differentiated cell therapy platform focused on engineered macrophages. The first applications of the platform are autologous chimeric antigen receptor macrophages for the treatment of solid tumors. Carisma Therapeutics is headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. For more information, please see the Company's website at www.carismatx.com.

About Phio Pharmaceuticals Corp.

Phio Pharmaceuticals Corp. (NASDAQ: PHIO) is a biotechnology company developing the next generation of immuno-oncology therapeutics based on its self-delivering RNAi (sd-rxRNA®) therapeutic platform. The Company's efforts are focused on silencing tumor-induced suppression of the immune system through our proprietary sd-rxRNA platform with utility in immune cells and/or the tumor micro-environment. Our goal is to maximize the power of our sd-rxRNA therapeutic compounds by weaponizing immune effector cells to overcome tumor immune escape providing patients with a powerful new treatment option that goes beyond current treatment modalities. For additional information, visit the Company's website, www.phiopharma.com.

SOURCE: Phio Pharmaceuticals

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