Cancer Research UK funding preclinical study of Imprime PGG

Posted: 18 August 2015 | Victoria White

Cancer Research UK will fund preclinical research evaluating the efficacy of Imprime PGG in combination with monoclonal antibody (MAb) therapies…

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) will fund preclinical research evaluating the efficacy of Biothera’s investigational cancer immunotherapy Imprime PGG® in combination with monoclonal antibody (MAb) therapies.

The research will act as a precursor to a Phase 1-2 clinical study in rituximab-refractory follicular lymphoma.

The research will be conducted at the Manchester Academic Health Sciences Centre under the direction of Tim Illidge, BSc, PhD, MRCP, FRCR, FRCPath, Professor of Targeted Therapy and Oncology, Institute of Cancer Sciences at the University of Manchester.

It forms part of CRUK’s Combinations Alliance, a joint initiative between the CRUK Centre for Drug Development, the UK’s Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) Network and commercial partners to boost research combining different drugs with conventional chemotherapy, radiotherapy and new targeted treatments.

“We are grateful to Cancer Research UK for its support and we are very pleased to be working with Dr Illidge, who is an internationally recognized expert in the management of lymphoma,” said Jeremy Graff, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Biothera Pharmaceutical Research. “Imprime PGG’s ability to orchestrate both innate and adaptive immune responses to facilitate cancer cell recognition and killing in combination with anti-CD20 antibodies may prove highly effective against B cell malignancies.”

Preclinical studies will determine if Imprime PGG enhances the efficacy of ofatumumab and obinutuzumab

CD20 is an antigen expressed on the cell surface of many B cell malignancies, including both Hodgkin’s lymphomas and most non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas. Co-investigator Dr Eleanor Cheadle of Targeted Therapy and Oncology Group will utilise preclinical models to determine whether Imprime PGG, through innate immune modulation, enhances the efficacy of two anti-CD20 MAbs, ofatumumab and obinutuzumab, that the US FDA has approved as treatments for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and which have shown potential to treat follicular non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The two MAbs have slightly different mechanisms of action and the study will be designed to determine which MAb will be most effective to develop in the clinic with Imprime PGG.

Biothera will present preclinical data at next month’s AACR-sponsored International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference showing that Imprime PGG enhances the efficacy of anti-CD20 MAbs rituximab, ofatumumab, and obinutuzumab in various B cell lymphoma cell lines.

In addition, clinical research with a combination of Imprime PGG and other complement-activating MAbs has shown promising results in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. In a recent study, 64% of the Imprime PGG treatment group had complete responses, meaning blood tests found no traces of cancer.

Dr Hazel Jones, Cancer Research UK’s Head of Combination Therapies, said, “We’re excited to be working with Biothera through our Combinations Alliance to progress this promising new immunotherapy combination treatment a step closer to the clinic. Through collaboration with industry, this scheme aims to create opportunities for clinical researchers to design pioneering trials involving new combinations of drugs, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. We’re delighted to add this study to our active portfolio of combination therapies, meaning we can hopefully offer a wider range of potential treatment options to people with cancer in the future.”