Cutting-edge cancer research lab opens operations at Pepper Place

IN8bio has opened a new Birmingham facility, a 10,000-square-foot advanced research and development laboratory in the Martin Biscuit Building at Pepper Place.
  • Caryn Jones, executive administrative assistant, Caitlyn Lucas and Samantha Youngblood, senior lab manager (left to right) help staff the IN8bio R&D facility at Pepper Place.

    Photography: Steve Wood

  • Office, conference and break areas cover around 4,000 square feet.

    Photography: Steve Wood

  • The IN8bio wet lab covers about 6,000 square feet.

    Photography: Steve Wood

  • Entrance to the R&D facility.

    Photography: Steve Wood

  • Photography: Steve Wood

  • Photography: Steve Wood

  • Photography: Steve Wood

Birmingham’s Pepper Place has a striking new addition to its teeming farmers’ market and noted food offerings — a multimillion-dollar cancer research laboratory. 

The lab is IN8bio’s new research and development facility in the Martin Biscuit Building at Pepper Place. This R&D space has about 6,000 square feet of wet lab space and around 4,000 square feet for offices, conferences and break areas. IN8bio is a biotechnology company focused on developing novel cellular therapies for cancer, with deep roots in cutting-edge cancer research developed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and other prominent institutes in the southern United States.

“IN8bio is committed to Birmingham, and we are dedicated to bringing new treatments for difficult-to-treat cancers and leveraging the power of gamma-delta T cells to develop therapies that can eradicate cancer, a vision we refer to as Cancer Zero,” said William Ho, CEO and co-founder of IN8bio.

Lawrence Lamb, Ph.D., former UAB professor of Medicine and senior scientist in the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB, is chief scientific officer and co-founder of IN8bio.

IN8bio has received FDA clearance to launch INB-400, a Phase 1b/2 clinical trial that will target newly diagnosed glioblastoma brain tumors, using IN8bio’s proprietary gamma-delta T cell immunotherapy. The national multicenter trial will be an IN8bio-sponsored trial with Burt Nabors, M.D., a professor of neurology at UAB and a senior scientist in the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, as the lead investigator.

The study will assess safety, efficacy and tolerability of genetically modified DeltEx drug-resistant immunotherapy, or DRI, cells at leading medical centers across the United States, IN8bio says. Last month, at the American Society of Clinical Oncology, or ASCO, Annual Meeting, IN8bio updated its positive Phase 1 glioblastoma results. They reported that 100 percent of eight treated patients to-date have exceeded historical median progression-free survival. Two patients who received three doses have remained progression-free at 23.5 and 19.4 months, respectively. Glioblastoma is the most aggressive type of cancer originating in the brain.

In April, IN8bio announced that its INB-100 leukemia clinical trial, using the company’s DeltEx gamma-delta T cells, had 100 percent of treated patients in durable, complete remissions up to three years.

In addition to progress in glioblastoma and leukemia, IN8bio last May announced positive preclinical data in ovarian cancer, underscoring the potential of its DeltEx gamma-delta T cells to target and kill ovarian cancer.

The DRI technology uses gamma-delta T cells, and it is licensed from the UAB Research Foundation and two other institutions. Gamma-delta T cells are a specialized population of T cells that possess unique properties, including the ability to differentiate between healthy and diseased tissue. The cells are used in a synergistic combination with chemotherapy.  

IN8bio has other Alabama roots besides its Pepper Place home. The UAB spinoff was incubated as a startup in Birmingham’s Innovation Depot for four years. The company employees also have many ties to Birmingham, including Samantha Youngblood, IN8bio’s senior lab manager, who worked in Lamb’s UAB lab while she was earning her biology degree in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences. Caitlyn Lucas and Becca Weekly earned their master’s degrees in clinical laboratory sciences at the UAB School of Health Professions. The company is continuing to build their team through additional hires, and the new facility is a cornerstone of their commitment to building in Birmingham.

The roots even extend back to high school. As teenagers, both Youngblood and Caryn Jones, a key IN8bio employee in the Birmingham R&D facility, attended Spain Park High School in Hoover, Alabama. Lucas attended Chilton County High School.

IN8bio will be hosting a grand opening celebration Thursday, Aug. 10, providing an opportunity for local leaders and media to learn about IN8bio’s mission, its efforts to bring novel cancer therapies to patients in need and its dedication to establishing a cutting-edge biotechnology presence in Birmingham. 

“By combining our business headquarters in New York City with our scientific operations in Birmingham, IN8bio capitalizes on the strengths of both locations,” Ho said. “This strategic setup allows the company to harness the vibrant ecosystem in New York City while benefiting from the rich cancer research heritage and local growth opportunities in Birmingham, Alabama.”

At UAB, Medicine and Neurology are departments in the Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine. UAB intellectual property is licensed through the Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.