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Scientists Collaborate To Create Next-Generation Immunotherapy Candidate

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Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, are working with the Cambridge-based immuno-oncology company Crescendo Biologics on its development of a potential ‘next generation’ immunotherapy.

This new research collaboration will characterise the non-clinical pharmacology of Crescendo’s drug candidate, called CB307 – exploring its effects on cancer cells in a variety of experimental models to complement its ongoing clinical development.

CB307 is an antibody fragment, or ‘Humabody’, that is being developed by Crescendo and which aims to activate tumour-targeting T cells – a type of immune cell – and expand their populations specifically within the tumour microenvironment.

The drug candidate works by targeting both CD137 – a surface protein on T cells – and prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA), high levels of which are often found on prostate cancer cells.

Next-generation immunotherapies

CB307 is described as an example of a potential ‘next generation’ immunotherapy because it aims to activate the immune system in a new way – in contrast with checkpoint inhibitors, which have had spectacular success in some cancers but less in others, including prostate cancer.

The new collaboration will include studies on patient-derived prostate cancer tissues to assess the influence of PSMA levels on CB307 activity and the impact of some standard-of-care and experimental therapeutics on PSMA levels. The researchers will also assess the co-localisation of PSMA and CD137 in tumour biopsies from prostate cancer patients.

Professor Johann de Bono, Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine at the ICR and honorary consultant medical oncologist at The Royal Marsden, said:

“We are very pleased to have initiated this important work with the team at Crescendo. Next-generation immunotherapies could offer much-needed new treatment options to patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer, as well as other common cancer types. We expect this collaboration to provide meaningful additional insights into the mechanisms and activity of CB307 in a variety of relevant settings.”

Dr Andrew Pierce, VP Translational Biology at Crescendo, said:

“The ICR is a world-renowned research institution, and we are very excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with Professor de Bono and his team to further explore the immunobiology of PSMA and CD137, including their co-localisation in tumour tissue. The results of these translational studies will be of great importance in understanding the profile of CB307, especially when placed alongside the clinical results as they continue to emerge from our ongoing clinical programme.”

More about prostate cancer research commercialisation at the ICR

The ICR, alongside our hospital partner The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, hosts one of the world’s leading prostate cancer research programmes. We also run about 50 first-in-human trials of novel drugs at any one time – in a range of cancer types – and sponsor later-stage drug trials.

Recent highlights from our prostate cancer therapeutics programmes include the publication of preclinical research describing the effects of CCS1477, a novel p300/CBP inhibitor we are developing in collaboration with the company CellCentric, and the announcement of initial results from a phase III trial of 177Lu-PSMA-617, a lutetium-based radiopharmaceutical owned by Novartis.

Current opportunities to collaborate with our researchers include the development of IL-23 inhibitors in prostate cancer.

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