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Compugen Target for Cancer Immunotherapy Shown to Affect Multiple Immune Cell Types

Published: Thursday, September 26, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, September 26, 2013
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CGEN-15049 immune checkpoint protein expressed on wide variety of cancers.

Compugen Ltd. has disclosed experimental data for CGEN-15049, one of nine novel immune checkpoint proteins predicted by the Company to date through the use of its unique predictive discovery infrastructure.

The experimental data demonstrate CGEN-15049's expression on a wide variety of cancers, and its functional effects on the activities of multiple types of immune cells that play critical roles in the immune system's response against the tumor.

These two characteristics identify CGEN-15049 as a promising target for the treatment of various cancers using monoclonal antibody therapy in order to block its inhibition of immune response against the tumor.

CGEN-15049 has demonstrated the ability to regulate an impressive array of different types of immune cells, therefore offering unique potential as a target for monoclonal antibody immunotherapy for many types of cancers and further contributing to the diversity of Compugen's Pipeline Program candidates.

More specifically, in vitro studies have shown that CGEN-15049 both inhibits Natural Killer cells, which are important for innate immune responses, and modulates the activity of types of T cells that constitute a crucial component of the adaptive anti-tumor immune response.

In this respect, CGEN-15049 inhibits cytotoxic T lymphocytes, which normally act to recognize and kill tumor cells, and promotes inducible regulatory T cells, which play a central role in creating the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment that reduce the ability of the immune system to fight the tumor.

In addition to its functional effect on multiple types of immune cells, CGEN-15049 is also expressed on a wide variety of cancers with high clinical unmet need, such as lung, ovarian, breast, colorectal, gastric, prostate and liver cancers.

Notably, its expression can be detected both within the tumor epithelium of the cancers as well as on immune cells infiltrating these cancers. This expression pattern within the tumor microenvironment, combined with its immunomodulatory activity on immune cells involved in tumor progression, suggest a role for CGEN-15049 in suppressing anti-tumor immune response. Therefore, inhibition of CGEN-15049 activity by monoclonal antibody therapy, in certain cancer types, is predicted to result in allowing the activation of an anti-tumor immune response and potentially eliminating the tumor itself.

Anat Cohen-Dayag, Ph.D., President and CEO of Compugen, said, “A novel immune checkpoint protein offers the potential for development of multiple therapeutic products for both immunology and oncology, depending on its mode of action and function. Also, it is believed that different checkpoints are likely to be expressed on different cancers and within a specific type of cancer, in different patient populations. Therefore, identifying multiple cancer-associated immune checkpoints is of significant interest in allowing for the treatment of larger patient populations. Having discovered a number of such proteins in our first focused discovery effort, we have been investing significant efforts in an ongoing process to validate and differentiate the roles of these proteins and their therapeutic potential to further increase their value to our Company.”

Dr. Cohen-Dayag, continued, “Last month we announced a collaboration agreement covering the development and commercialization of monoclonal antibody therapeutics for cancer immunotherapy against two of these nine Compugen-discovered immune checkpoints, named CGEN-15001T and CGEN-15022. In addition, as previously disclosed, two fusion protein product candidates, CGEN-15001 and CGEN-15021, based on these same two immune checkpoints, are progressing in our Pipeline Program for possible therapeutic applications in immunology. Today’s announcement relates to encouraging experimental results with respect to the potential for a third disclosed Compugen-discovered immune checkpoint, CGEN-15049 for use in cancer immunotherapy.”

Dr. Cohen-Dayag concluded, “As we now focus our predictive capabilities on our second focused discovery program, which as previously disclosed involves the discovery of targets for antibody drug conjugate cancer therapy, we are pleased to see the continuing progress in our Pipeline Program of additional early stage product candidates for both oncology and immunology, resulting from our first effort of this kind.”

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