immatics biotechnologies GmbH, together with its collaborators Cancer Research UK and Cancer Research Technology has announced that they have entered a license agreement in which immatics will continue to develop its cancer vaccine IMA950 for glioblastoma, the most common and lethal adult brain tumour.
The decision is based on positive results from a phase 1 trial that was conducted under the Clinical Development Partnerships (CDP) joint initiative of Cancer Research UK’s Drug Development Office (DDO) and Cancer Research Technology (CRT) as part of the charity’s role in assessing new treatments of potential benefit to cancer patients.
IMA950 is a vaccine that uses 11 different HLA-restricted tumour-associated peptides (TUMAPs). The TUMAPs, identified by immatics using its proprietary drug discovery platform XPRESIDENT®, are known to be over-expressed on the surface of glioblastoma tumours. They trigger the patient’s immune system to recognize and kill tumour cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
The IMA950 trial met the agreed primary endpoints of safety and immunogenicity in a phase 1 multicentre trial which was undertaken at seven Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres across the UK, led by the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre in Glasgow. 45 patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma were treated with IMA950 in addition to standard of care, surgery and concomitant or adjuvant chemotherapy with temozolomide. Results showed that 90 per cent of patients responded to the vaccine, in comparison to the pre-defined goal of 60 per cent, exceeding expectations.
IMA950 is the first therapeutic vaccine developed under the CDP scheme. Under the scheme, companies retain rights to their drugs while allowing Cancer Research UK’s DDO to undertake early clinical development work to assess the treatment’s benefit to cancer patients.
Nine projects have been taken on under the CDP initiative with IMA950 being the first to complete a clinical trial and be taken forward by the company. immatics has paid CRT an undisclosed licensing fee for exclusive rights to the phase 1 clinical trial data and, provided IMA950 is successfully developed and commercialized, will pay further development milestones and downstream royalties.
Professor Roy Rampling, chief investigator for the study and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, said: “Brain tumours are a particularly difficult type of cancer to treat with conventional methods, but they have recently been accepted as a possible target for immunotherapy - increasingly recognized as a potentially important approach to treating cancer.
“In our study we investigated whether patients newly diagnosed with the most common and aggressive type of malignant brain tumour called glioblastoma could mount an appropriate immune response when given IMA950 and if the vaccine was safe. IMA950 was very simple to administer and was very well tolerated. Importantly, we were very pleased to see that nearly all patients mounted an immune response that could be detected in the blood, which is the first step in establishing clinical activity before determining patient benefit in subsequent studies.”
Paul Higham, CEO of immatics, said: “I am delighted that we are in a position to take the development of IMA950 forward for the treatment of patients with glioblastoma. This is our third cancer vaccine to have shown promising results. There is clearly a high need for new therapies for glioblastoma, which is a very hard-to-treat cancer, with very poor survival rates. The DDO has been an excellent partner and we are very grateful for the work they have done in further characterizing the positive attributes of IMA950.”
Dr Nigel Blackburn, Cancer Research UK’s director of the DDO, said: “We’re extremely pleased that our collaboration with immatics has yielded positive phase 1 data with IMA950 and that through our Clinical Development Partnerships initiative we have been able to ensure it has the potential to reach patients sooner. Better treatment options for glioblastoma are badly needed and we hope that the potential of this novel approach will be confirmed in future clinical studies.
“Cancer Research UK is committed to playing a key role in the development of improved cancer therapies and we see collaborations with a broad range of partners, such as immatics, as critical to achieving this very important goal.”