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Compugen Ltd. (CGEN) Lets The Cat Out Of The Bag, Discloses Discovery Of Five Potential Cancer Targets For New Program


12/11/2013 6:06:08 AM

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Compugen Discloses Discovery of Five Potential Cancer Targets for Antibody Drug Conjugate Therapy


Compugen Ltd. (NASDAQ: CGEN) announced today the predictive discovery and selection of five candidate targets for antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) cancer therapy. These five potential ADC targets, representing the initial results from the Company’s second focused in silico discovery program, are now entering initial experimental validation to be followed by antibody discovery and development activities. Initial results are expected during the second half of 2014.

ADC therapy utilizes antibodies to selectively target proteins on the surface of cancer cells for the delivery of highly toxic chemicals. This selective delivery is designed to limit the damage to healthy tissues, thereby reducing the side effects as compared to chemotherapy. To date, two approved ADC drugs have demonstrated impressive clinical proof of concept for this exciting new class of oncology drugs, and there are multiple additional ADC drugs in clinical development. Therefore, the discovery of target proteins meeting the requirements for utilizing ADC technology in the treatment of cancer is an area of high industry interest.

ADC target discovery is Compugen's second focused in silico discovery program, following the success of its first focused discovery program for the discovery of immune checkpoint targets for treatment of cancer and immune diseases. Compugen’s ADC target discovery program, which was initiated earlier this year, utilizes the same underlying predictive discovery infrastructure as the Company’s earlier immune checkpoint program, with the addition of certain algorithms and other computational capabilities specifically developed for this effort. In both programs, the objective is to first identify an appropriate set of proteins with the support of the Company’s proprietary predictive human proteome, and then select from this set those proteins predicted to have the highest probability of meeting each program’s specific requirements.

More specifically for the ADC program, Compugen’s discovery infrastructure was expanded by incorporating additional algorithms that enable prediction of membrane proteins having the potential to internalize, that are both expressed on cancer cells and have low expression on healthy cells, in order to allow the ADC drug to selectively attack the tumor and spare healthy tissues. It was additionally enhanced to identify targets associated with advanced cancer stages and poor clinical outcome, in order to provide potential superior first-in-class treatment to patient populations with limited therapeutic options.

Dr. Anat Cohen-Dayag, Compugen’s President and CEO stated, “As we continue to invest most of our R&D and commercialization efforts on activities supporting our current Pipeline Program product candidates, which are largely based on our immune checkpoint discoveries, we are pleased to disclose these promising initial discoveries from our second focused discovery program.”

Dr. Cohen-Dayag continued, “Immune checkpoint regulators are generally considered to be the next frontier in the treatment of cancer; however, ADCs are recognized as an additional very promising class of highly potent and selective oncology drugs providing a different approach to cancer treatment. Therefore, in view of our successful track record of experimental validation for molecules selected by our unique predictive discovery infrastructure, we very much look forward to the potential for these ADC target candidates to further expand the scope and diversity of the cancer therapy arm of our pipeline.”

Dr. Cohen-Dayag added, “These discoveries demonstrate significant advantages that our predictive discovery methodology offers compared with traditional discovery. First, since the required discovery platform for this program was built through the enhancement of our existing infrastructure, the total time to date has been less than a year from initiation of the program. Furthermore, this enhanced capability will now be available for future discovery programs. Second, since this second program utilizes a different basis for selection and prioritization of results than the first program, it further demonstrates the applicability of our core predictive infrastructure to multiple areas of high industry interest. Third, as demonstrated by both programs, each focused discovery program has the potential to yield multiple possible novel product candidates.”

About ADC Cancer Therapy

ADC cancer therapy destroys cancer cells by delivering high-potency cytotoxic agents (the “payload”) directly to the cancer cells. The principle underlying ADC therapy is linking the toxic agent payload to an antibody or antibody fragment that specifically targets a protein present on the membrane of the cancer cell. After administration to the patient, the antibody with the payload specifically binds this membrane protein on the cancer cell and is then internalized into the cell where the payload is released and destroys it. Thus, unlike chemotherapies, ADC therapy is designed to specifically destroy only cells displaying this protein by targeting the appropriate protein on the cancer cell. ADCs against a number of targets, both in solid and hematologic tumors, are in clinical development, with two ADC products gaining FDA approval in the past two years.

About Compugen

Compugen is a leading drug discovery company focused on therapeutic proteins and monoclonal antibodies to address important unmet needs in the fields of immunology and oncology. The Company utilizes a broad and continuously growing integrated infrastructure of proprietary scientific understandings and predictive platforms, algorithms, machine learning systems and other computational biology capabilities for the in silico (by computer) prediction and selection of product candidates, which are then advanced in its Pipeline Program. The Company's business model includes collaborations covering the further development and commercialization of selected product candidates from its Pipeline Program and various forms of research and discovery agreements, in both cases providing Compugen with potential milestone payments and royalties on product sales or other forms of revenue sharing. In 2012, Compugen established operations in California for the development of oncology and immunology monoclonal antibody therapeutic candidates against Compugen drug targets. For additional information, please visit Compugen's corporate website at www.cgen.com.

This press release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements, include words such as “may,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “potential,” “believes,” and “intends,” and describe opinions about future events. Forward-looking statements in this press release include, but are not limited to, statements with respect to the timing of validation of the ADC target candidates; the potential therapeutic value in cancer therapy for ADC target candidates discovered by Compugen; and their potential to result in drug candidates thereby expanding Compugen’s Pipeline Program. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Compugen to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Some of these risks and other factors are discussed in the "Risk Factors" section of Compugen’s Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2012 as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition, any forward-looking statements represent Compugen’s views only as of the date of this release and should not be relied upon as representing its views as of any subsequent date. Compugen does not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statements unless required by law.

Contacts

Compugen Ltd.
Tsipi Haitovsky
Global Media Liaison
+972-52-598-9892
tsipih@netvision.net.il

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