AACR Meeting Brief: Compugen, Bayer, Tarveda, Alligator and Others


Now in its fourth day, the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2018 held in Chicago, has had plenty of news, much of it preclinical or early-clinical data. Here’s a roundup of some of the top stories.

Compugen and Bayer AG presented efficacy data of BAY 1905254 in cancer immunotherapy. The compound is a first-in-class antibody candidate that targets ILDR2, a novel immune checkpoint discovered by Israeli company Compugen. Bayer expects to move it into human trials sometime this year.

“ILDR2 is a completely new immune checkpoint that we discovered through our computational discovery capabilities,” said Anat Cohen-Dayag, Compugen’s president and chief executive officer, in a statement. “This immune checkpoint, together with the discovery of TIGIT and PVRIG, clearly demonstrate the power and value of Compugen’s predictive discovery capabilities in the discovery of new drug targets and pathways, enabling the development of first-in-class product opportunities.”

Sierra Oncology, based in Vancouver, presented data for its Checkpoint kinase 1 (Chk1) inhibitor SRA737, as a monotherapy and in combination with a poly ADP-ribose polymerase inhibitor (PARPi) like Tesaro’s Zejula (niraparib). It is being evaluated in an ongoing Phase I/II trial in replication stress-driven cancer. It also plans to initiate a Phase Ib/II trial in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer in the fourth quarter.

Tarveda Therapeutics, headquartered in Watertown, Massachusetts, presented preclinical data related to PEN-866. PEN-866 is a miniature drug conjugate to treat patients with solid tumor types that are sensitive to topoisomerase 1 inhibitors like SN-38, which is PEN-866’s payload. It is being evaluated in models of ovarian cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancer. PEN-866 utilizes the activation of Heat Shock Protein 90 (HSP90) in tumors in order to accumulate and release its payload.

Lycera Corp., located in New York and Ann Arbor, Michigan, released clinical findings from the Phase I part of its Phase I/IIa ARGON trial of the company’s novel immuno-oncology candidate, LYC-55716. LYC-55716 is a first-in-class oral, selective retinoic acid-related orphan receptor-gamma (RORgamma) agonist that reprograms the immune system in solid tumor patients. In the 32 patients enrolled in six dosing cohorts, the drug was well tolerated and no dose-limiting toxicities were seen.

“The promising safety results and early signals of efficacy with LYC-55716 as a monotherapy are very encouraging,” said Judy Wang, associate director of Drug Development, Florida Cancer Specialists and Sarah Cannon Research Institute, in a statement. “We are very pleased to be participating in the development of this novel immunotherapeutic, and are actively enrolling patients with advanced solid tumor cancers in the Phase IIa portion of the study.”

Lund, Sweden’s Alligator Bioscience presented preclinical data on its immune activating antibody ATOR-1015. ATOR-1015 is a first-in-class bispecific tumor-directed antibody that targets CTLA-4 and OX40. The data shows the compound localizes to the tumor and activates the immune system in the surrounding area, which confirms the drug’s mechanism of action. It is designed mostly for a combo-therapy with PD-1 blocking antibody.

“The results presented in Chicago confirm that our CTLA-4 bispecific antibody ATOR-1015 selectively activates the immune system in the tumor area,” said Per Norlen, Alligator’s chief executive officer, in a statement. “This offers great potential for an improved benefit/risk profile for cancer patients. We are more and more excited about the significant prospects for this unique compound, particularly in combination with PD-1 blockers, and are looking forward to initiate clinical development later in the year.”

CBT Pharmaceuticals, based in Pleasonton, California, a U.S. and China-based biopharmaceutical company, presented preclinical in-vivo data and animal safety pharmacology studies of CBT-102. This compound is a multi-targeted kinase inhibitor that targets VEGFR, PDGFR, MAPK, B-RAF, C-RAF, C-KIT and CSF1R. It showed tumor regression in 52 patient-derived xenograft models, including non-small cell lung, colorectal, gastric, and hepatocellular carcinoma.

“We are highly encouraged by the preclinical safety and efficacy data of CBT-102,” said Sanjeef Redkar, president and chief executive officer of CBT Pharma, in a statement. “Based on this data set, we plan to advance CBT-102 into GLP toxicology studies in 2018 with an aim to enter the clinic in early 2019 in combination with other agents in our portfolio.”

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