IGEM is an immuno-oncology company developing novel immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to treat cancer. The collaboration will add to IGEM’s pipeline of therapies and expand upon IGEM-F, an IgE antibody targeting ovarian and other cancers that is already being tested in a Phase 1 clinical trial (NCT02546921).
IONTAS is a biotechnology company focused on antibody discovery. Under this collaboration, IONTAS will use its proprietary antibody discovery technology to help IGEM identify novel IgE antibodies against two targets.
Unlike immunoglobulin G (IgG), IgE antibodies have ideal features for the treatment of solid tumors. IgE antibodies inflitrate tumor tissue more effectively, exhibit enhanced effector functions (meaning the antibodies have an increased ability to trigger a response from T-cells), and induce greater levels of cytotoxicity and phagocytosis (meaning they may trigger a more powerful immune response to tumor cells than the currently available IgG antibodies).
“This collaboration capitalizes on the antibody discovery capabilities at IONTAS which enable the generation of high-quality therapeutic antibodies using phage-display or mammalian-display,” John McCafferty, chief executive officer at IONTAS, said in a press release. “We maintain a strong interest in developing novel therapeutic approaches and recognize IgE therapeutics as an important addition to the armory of novel cancer therapies.”
“IONTAS was selected as our development partner of choice because of their extensive experience and track record in delivering therapeutic antibodies,” added Tim Wilson, chief executive officer at IGEM. “The combination of the IGEM IgE platform and the discovery capability of IONTAS will rapidly expand our portfolio of antibodies and help meet our ambitions to progress new leads into the clinic.”
The Phase 1 clinical trial, now enrolling participants in London, is a first in human study of the new therapeutic antibody IGEM-F IgE in patients with advanced cancer, seeking to demonstrate the potential of this IgE antibody as well as the efficacy of this class of antibodies in the treatment of cancer.
Specifically, IGEM-F IgE antibodies are designed to recognize and attach to a particular protein called the “folate receptor alpha.” Researchers have found more of this protein on the surface of certain cancer cells, including ovarian cancer cells, than on the surface of normal cells.
This study is the first to provide this new antibody treatment to humans and will focus primarily on assessing the safety of the therapeutic candidate, as well as on the confirmation of findings of previous studies showing that IGEM-F IgE will not trigger anaphylaxis.
Patients in this study will be selected based on the presence of folate receptor protein on their tumor in a previous biopsy. The objective of the trial is to find a safe dose at which IGEM-F IgE has good chance of effectively treating the cancer.
The study is recruiting up to 25 participants. Eligibility criteria is available on the clinical trial website.