Compugen Ltd. has announced the discovery and initial validation of two new drug target candidates for monoclonal antibody (mAb) cancer therapy.
These new candidates have been shown to be expressed in multiple types of tumors and were shown to have an immunomodulatory activity in affecting both innate and adaptive immune responses, thus providing the potential for an efficient and targeted approach in cancer treatment.
By offering a different mode of action from Compugen's other immune checkpoint candidates, these molecules further broaden the scope of the Company's Pipeline Program for monoclonal antibody treatment of cancer.
In recent in vitro studies, both of these immune checkpoint molecules have shown distinct activity inhibiting two key subtypes of immune cells, Natural Killer (NK) cells and T cells.
These key immune cell subtypes act to recognize and kill tumor cells and have critical roles in the response of the immune system to tumor development.
Antibodies directed against and blocking each of these immune checkpoints could remove their inhibitory effect on T cells and NK cells, thus enhancing the anti-tumor activity of these pivotal immune cell subsets.
Therefore, agents targeting these checkpoint molecules hold great promise for efficient cancer immunotherapy and long-lived tumor destruction.
Recent protein expression studies for these two Compugen-discovered molecules indicate enhanced expression in a wide variety of cancers with high unmet medical need. These include lung, ovarian, breast, colorectal, gastric and liver cancer.
Hence, in addition to their potential utility in cancer immunotherapy, which aims to stimulate the patient’s own immune system to eliminate cancer cells, these two molecules also have therapeutic potential as drug targets for direct cancer mAb therapy, whereby monoclonal antibodies directed against these targets would directly destroy the cancer cells.
Dr. Anat Cohen-Dayag, President and CEO of Compugen, stated, “It is increasingly evident that the blockade of immune checkpoints is among the most promising approaches to activate therapeutic anti-tumor immunity. Therefore, we are very pleased with the addition of the two immune checkpoint targets being disclosed today, each of which acts on both arms of the immune system."
Dr. Cohen-Dayag continued, "These two molecules broaden Compugen's oncology pipeline, thus potentially providing differentiated and effective solutions for multiple forms of cancer. In this respect, we recently reported that CGEN-15001, an Fc fusion protein based on the Compugen-discovered CGEN-15001T immune checkpoint target, promotes inducible regulatory T cells (iTregs) in addition to its inhibitory effect on T cells. Therefore, an antibody directed against and blocking CGEN-15001T has the potential to eliminate the inhibitory effect of this molecule on T cells and, in parallel, to inhibit iTregs' pro-tumorigenic effects. Given the current scientific understanding that multiple modes of action will be required for effective cancer treatments, our pipeline now includes a number of distinct oncology product candidates, including the two being disclosed today, further attesting to the predictive strength of our in silico approach to drug discovery."