Next generation innate immune agonists

Precision targeting through

Delivering innate immune agonists specifically to the right tissue, for the right duration, at the right dose to fight cancer and infectious disease.

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Turning cold tumors into hot tumors using tissue-targeted innate immune agonists

Apros Therapeutics is a drug discovery and development company focused on tissue-targeted small molecule innate immune agonists to increase tumor immunogenicity – turning cold tumors hot. We do this utilizing novel chemistry approaches to precisely target the agonist to certain tumors/tissues with little to no systemic distribution.

TLR agonist have the potential to turn immunologically cold tumors into hot tumors by increasing tumor antigenicity and promoting inflammation within the tumor microenvironment. Combining TLR agonists with checkpoint inhibitors provides complementary mechanisms to boost the tumor immunity cycle and to improve the response of current cancer immune therapies.

Potential causes for checkpoint non-response:

  • Low tumor mutational burden
  • Low immune cell infiltrate

By acting at multiple nodes of the cycle, TLR agonists have the potential to:

  • Increase tumor antigenicity, by activating Antigen Presenting Cells and enhancing antigen processing and presentation
  • Promote inflammation within the Tumor Microenvironment, by inducing Th1 cytokines and promoting T cell infiltration into the tumor

immunity cycle


TLR Agonists

  • Antigen Processing & Presentation icon

    & Presentation

  • Priming and Activation icon

    Priming & Activation

  • T Cell Infiltration icon

    T Cell Infiltration

  • Tumor Recognition icon

    Tumor Recognition

  • Tumor Killing icon

    Tumor Killing

  • Antigen Release icon

    Antigen Release

Checkpoint inhibitor

Local activation of toll-like receptors affords effective immune priming with minimal systemic inflammation, which is predicted to uncouple efficacy from toxicity. Akin to vaccines, localized innate immune priming leads to systemic adaptive immunity (antibodies and T-cells) against cancer or viral antigens.

Early clinical proof-of-concept

Systemic innate activation:

  • Poor tolerability
  • Immune tolerance

Local innate activation:

  • Better tolerability
  • Abscopal response
Early clinical proof-of-concept achieved with intratumoral TLR agonists

Our chemistry-based platform aims to widen the therapeutic window of TLR7 agonists by achieving localized innate immune activation using methods that overcome the limitations of intratumoral injections.

Our tactics for engineering TLR agonists include

  • Bioconjugation diagram
    small molecule drug
  • Tissue-Targeted Chemistry diagram
    Tissue-Targeted Chemistry
  • Conditional Activation / Deactivation diagram
    Conditional Activation / Deactivation
  • Novel Delivery Technology
    Novel Delivery Technology


Program /



Candidate Selection


Phase 1

APR003 - Oral
GI/Liver Cancer, HBV

APR002 - Inhaled

APR006 - Alum
Vaccine Adjuvant

GMP Material Available for Collaboration


Tom YH Wu, PhD

Tom YH Wu, PhD

Chemistry & Pre-Clinical Development

Tom YH Wu, PhD

Chemistry & Pre-Clinical Development
Dr. Tom Wu is a co-founder of Apros Therapeutics, and leads Chemistry and Pre-Clinical Development. Dr. Wu specializes in tissue-specific drug design, which has led to the discovery of several clinical stage innate immune agonists for treatment of cancer and as vaccine adjuvant. Dr. Wu received his B.Sc. in Chemistry and Biochemistry at The University of British Columbia, Ph.D. at The Scripps Research Institute, and previously held the positions of Senior Research Chemist at Merck Frosst and Associate Director at Novartis/GNF.
Ron Weitzman, MD

Ron Weitzman, MD

Chief Medical Advisor

Ron Weitzman, MD

Chief Medical Advisor
Dr. Ron Weitzman leads Clinical Development at Apros Therapeutics. Dr. Weitzman is a US trained board certified medical oncologist and has worked in the biopharmaceutical industry since 1999. Over his career he has worked in all areas of clinical development including phase 1, 2 and 3 clinical trials. Dr. Weitzman has drug development experience in both solid and hematological malignancies and has interacted extensively with FDA, EMEA, Canadian and Japanese health authorities. In his most recent FTE role at Exelixis, he oversaw cabozantinib's (XL184) development in prostate cancer with two ongoing phase 3 registrational studies. Over the years Dr. Weitzman has managed both large and small groups and very much enjoys mentoring colleagues. In 2014, he founded Weitzman Consulting Group LLC which provides consulting services in all areas of Oncology drug development.

Trinh Le, MBA

Trinh Le, MBA

Clinical Operations

Trinh Le, MBA

Clinical Operations
Ms. Trinh Le leads Clinical Operations at Apros Therapeutics. Ms. Le has over 25 years of experience in clinical operations, her unique set of experiences has demonstrated success in all operational aspects of global clinical trials from early to late stage for drug and biologic products across multiple therapeutic areas. Ms. Le received her B.A. in Urban Studies at University of California, San Diego and her Masters of Business Administration at University of Redlands. She has held senior positions at several biotech/pharmaceuticals and contract research companies.
Stephen F Keane

Stephen F Keane

Business Development

Stephen F Keane

Business Development
Mr. Keane leads Business Development at Apros Therapeutics and is a seasoned life sciences executive with an extensive track record in business development and financial transactions for emerging biopharmaceutical companies. He has experience as CBO, COO and CEO of several Venture Capital funded companies, including officer roles in publicly traded companies. Mr. Keane has raised over $420 million in equity capital in the last two decades and has helped generate more than $450 million in non-dilutive partner revenues to fund drug discovery programs. He was responsible for negotiating multiple acquisitions, alliances including licenses, distributions agreements, technology acquisitions and research agreements with large pharmaceutical companies and government agencies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from San Diego State University.


Pamela M Klein, MD

Pamela M Klein, MD


Pamela M Klein, MD

Dr. Pamela M. Klein is Principal of PMK BioResearch offering advisory and strategic consulting for the biotechnology industry and venture firms. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Argenx, Patrys, Springbank and I-Mab Biopharma. Dr. Klein has served as Chief Medical Officer for multiple successful biotech companies as well as Vice President, Development, Genentech where she led the Development for a portfolio of drugs. Prior to this, she served as Research Director for the National Cancer Institute-Navy Breast Care Center that she co-founded while at the NIH. Dr. Klein is trained in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology.
Sheng Ding, PhD

Sheng Ding, PhD


Sheng Ding, PhD


Dr. Sheng Ding is currently the Dean and Bayer Distinguished Professor in the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Tsinghua University. He is also the founding Institute Director of Global Health Drug Discovery Institute in Beijing, a joint venture by Tsinghua University and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Ding also holds a joint appointment as William K. Bowes, Jr. Distinguished Investigator at the Gladstone Institutes, and Professor at Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California San Francisco. He obtained his B.S. in chemistry with honors from Caltech in 1999, and a Ph.D. in chemistry from The Scripps Research Institute in 2003. Before moving to back to China, Ding was an Assistant Professor and then Associate Professor of Chemistry at Scripps from 2003 to 2011, and then Senior Investigator/Professor at Gladstone/UCSF from 2011 to 2016. Dr. Ding has pioneered on developing and applying innovative chemical approaches to stem cell biology and regeneration, with a focus on discovering and characterizing novel small molecules that can control various cell fate/function, including stem cell maintenance, activation, differentiation and reprogramming in various developmental stages and tissues. Ding has published over 150 research articles, reviews and book chapters, and made several seminal contributions to the stem cell field and drug discovery. Ding is a cofounder of several biotechnology companies.