GlaxoSmithKline and the international Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (LICR) have announced they have entered into an agreement whereby GSK has licensed a substantial portfolio of tumor-specific antigens from LICR.
The licensing agreement follows a long-standing collaboration between both parties on GSK's investigational MAGE-A3 Antigen Specific Cancer Immunotherapeutic (ASCI) in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC).
This cancer immunotherapy ("therapeutic vaccination") is based on MAGE-A3, a tumor- specific antigen previously in-licensed by GSK from LICR.
Tumor-specific antigens are proteins expressed only by tumor cells. Once administered in combination with a specifically designed GSK proprietary adjuvant system, they are expected to trigger a specific immune response to eliminate tumor cells.
Under the terms of the agreement, GSK has licensed from LICR a significant number of cancer antigens expressed in a large variety of cancers, including NSCLC, melanoma, breast cancer, head and neck cancer, bladder cancer and liver cancer.
Promising interim results from a proof-of-concept phase II clinical trial of GSK's MAGE-A3 Antigen Specific Cancer Immunotherapeutic (ASCI) in patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) were presented at the 2006 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
These first data from GSK's ASCI support further research in the use of these compounds as potential treatment options for cancer.
By licensing more antigens from LICR, GSK will be able to expand its work in other tumor types.
"The signing of this agreement signals a new milestone in the relationship between LICR and GSK," said Jonathan C.A. Skipper, PhD, Executive Director for Intellectual Property and Licensing at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research.
"We have enjoyed a productive and successful collaboration between our respective scientific teams for some years and we look forward to our continued preclinical and clinical collaborations."
"However, it is with great confidence that LICR hands the baton for the clinical development of our best tumor-specific antigens to GSK."
"We are very pleased to announce this agreement with the LICR the very same day the promising data from GSK's MAGE-A3 ASCI were presented," said Jean Stephenne, President of GSK Biologicals.
"With the licensing of this impressive portfolio of cancer antigens, we endorse our collaboration with the Ludwig Institute and reaffirm our commitment to using our experience in immunology to develop innovative immunotherapies against a wide variety of oncology conditions."
MAGE-A3 ASCI is an investigational drug and it is not approved for use in any indication in any country at this time.