Sensei Biotherapeutics is developing a pipeline of medicines that work by “awakening” the immune system to defend and defeat cancer and infectious diseases. Sensei’s most advanced program is SNS-301, a vaccine that targets Aspartyl beta Hydroxylase (ASPH) in Phase 1/2 studies of advanced Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck (SCCHN). ASPH is overexpressed in many types of cancer, including both hematologic and solid tumors.


SNS-301 is a first-in-class ImmunoPhage™ that is being studied in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial. Early data with SNS-301 as a monotherapy and in combination with immune checkpoint inhibitors have demonstrated that it has generally been well tolerated, shows improvements in disease biomarkers and has the potential to generate a robust, dose-dependent antigen-specific CD8+ T cell and B-cell response. Sensei Bio is currently conducting a Phase 1/2 trial of SNS-301 in combination with Keytruda™ (pembrolizumab) in head and neck cancer patients who did not achieve tumor reductions on anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapy alone (NCT04034225).

Sensei Bio has an active clinical collaboration with AstraZeneca to evaluate the combination of SNS-301 and IMFINZI® (durvalumab) in patients with the following cancers:

  • Locally-advanced head and neck cancer in the neoadjuvant setting in conjunction with neoadjuvant chemotherapy (i.e. prior to surgical resection).
  • ASPH+ patients with various locally-advanced unresectable or metastatic/recurrent solid tumors


SNS-401 is an ImmunoPhage™ cocktail against Merkel Cell Carcinoma, an aggressive type of skin cancer, driven by the Merkel Cell Carcinoma Polyoma Virus, in collaboration with investigators at the University of Washington. The University of Washington is one of the premier cancer centers worldwide for the research and treatment of Merkel Cell Carcinoma. Researchers there have mapped the B- and T-cell epitopes of the Merkel Cell Polyoma Virus.


Sensei is developing an antibody-based therapeutic targeting V-domain Ig suppressor of T cell activation (VISTA), currently in lead identification, in conjunction with Adimab. VISTA is a novel immune checkpoint that is expressed primarily on myeloid cells; it has been shown in multiple experimental mouse tumor models to be highly complementary to the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway.  In addition, preclinical studies have shown that VISTA is implicated in PD-1/PD-L1 resistance and that therapeutic intervention has the potential to be effective as a monotherapy and synergistic with PD-1/PD-L1 inhibition in vivo.

About Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancers include cancers in the larynx, throat, lips, mouth, nose, and salivary glands.  Head and neck cancer is the sixth most common malignancy worldwide, accounting for approximately 6% of all cancer cases, and is responsible for an estimated 1% to 2% of all cancer deaths. An estimated 650,000 cases of head and neck cancer are diagnosed annually worldwide, including approximately 50,000 cases in the United States. Tobacco use, heavy alcohol use, and infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) increase the risk of head and neck cancers1. Although five-year overall survival (OS) is good for patients diagnosed with localized (83.7%) or locoregionally advanced (64.2%) squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN), the cancer often recurs distantly. Recurrent or de novo metastatic SCCHN is virtually incurable and the five-year survival is 38.5%2. Extending patients’ survival is, therefore, an important treatment goal.

1 Head and Neck Cancers, NCI, 2017
2 Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck, Decision Resources Disease Landscape and Forecast 2018