June 12, 2013, New York, NY, and Seattle, WA—The Cancer Research Institute (CRI), the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and Immune Design, a biotech company focused on immune-based therapies for cancer and other human diseases, today announced that they have signed a collaboration agreement to advance cancer immunotherapy research. Specifically, the partnership will focus on clinical trials to test novel combinations of immunotherapies, including two investigational drugs from Immune Design’s pipeline.
Significant momentum has been building in the development of effective therapeutic strategies that seek to improve the human immune system’s ability to recognize and attack cancer. Advances in immunotherapy, reflected through product approvals and promising clinical data, support the potential for this new class of treatment to significantly impact the treatment paradigm for cancer patients.
“The collaboration with Immune Design marks the third in a series of CRI and Ludwig partnerships with industry designed to facilitate the investigation of next generation combination immunotherapies,” said Adam Kolom, managing director of CRI’s non-profit venture fund, which makes investments to support the costs of innovative immunotherapy clinical trials. “Each of our partnerships is designed to facilitate access to one or more high-promise immune reagents so that exciting new combination treatments can be brought to patients and studied by researchers.”
The Ludwig Institute and CRI will conduct studies of cancer immunotherapy combinations through their jointly coordinated CVC clinical trials network using two investigational drugs that Immune Design will provide from its product pipeline, combined with other priority agents available to CRI and the Ludwig Institute from their internal portfolios or accessed through additional industry partnerships. The Immune Design agents include a synthetic toll-like receptor 4 (TLR-4) agonist adjuvant, called GLA (glucopyranosyl lipid A), and LV305, a novel lentivector-based vaccine product candidate.
The GLA adjuvant is poised to play an important role in the development of effective next generation vaccines for cancer immunotherapy, where they will be critical for targeting weakly immunogenic tumor antigens in order to overcome various tolerance mechanisms and facilitate induction of cytotoxic T lymphocytes that can traffic to and lyse malignant cells.
The LV305 vaccine has been specifically engineered to deliver antigen-encoding nucleic acids to dendritic cells in vivo. The vector directly targets dendritic cells with an antigen and has been demonstrated to elicit unprecedented levels of antigen-specific CD8 T cell expansion after a single injection.
“Different cancer immunotherapies are designed to target distinct and potentially complementary effects on the immune system,” said Jonathan Skipper, PhD, executive director of technology development at the Ludwig Institute. “Using combinations of immunotherapies enables us to attack a patient’s cancer on multiple fronts, increasing the likely impact of therapy and decreasing the chances of immune escape.”
“Cancer immunotherapy has made a great amount of progress recently, but for them to work effectively a strong immune response is needed,” said Carlos Paya, MD, PhD, chief executive officer at Immune Design. “Our entirely novel technologies are first in class to drive an effective and robust immune response against cancer for patients whose tumor-specific immune response is either non-detectable or suboptimal. We are excited to test our technologies in combination with other immunotherapies.”
Financial terms were not disclosed.
About GLA (glucopyranosyl lipid A)
GLA is a fully synthetic, best-in-class TLR-4 agonist molecular adjuvant that activates dendritic cells by up-regulating key molecules required for efficient antigen presentation, and stimulates TH1 cytokine production to enhance the immune response. This novel, propriety vaccine adjuvant has been shown to be safe and well-tolerated in multiple human clinical studies in over 650 patients.
LV305 is a novel lentiviral vector engineered to deliver antigen-encoding nucleic acids directly to dendritic cells in vivo. This promotes the efficient generation of tumor-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), the primary effector cells required for effective cancer immunotherapy.
About the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research
The Ludwig Institute is an international non-profit organization committed to improving the understanding and control of cancer through integrated laboratory and clinical discovery. Leveraging its worldwide network of investigators and the ability to sponsor and conduct its own clinical trials, the Institute is actively engaged in translating its discoveries into applications for patient benefit. Since its establishment in 1971, the Institute has expended more than $1.5 billion on cancer research.
About the Cancer Research Institute
The Cancer Research Institute (CRI), established in 1953, is the world’s only non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to transforming cancer patient care by advancing scientific efforts to develop new and effective immune system-based strategies to prevent, diagnose, treat, and cure cancer. Guided by a world-renowned Scientific Advisory Council that includes three Nobel laureates and 30 members of the National Academy of Sciences, CRI has invested more than $200 million in support of research conducted by immunologists and tumor immunologists at the world’s leading medical centers and universities, and has contributed to many of the key scientific advances that demonstrate the potential for immunotherapy to change the face of cancer treatment. Learn more here.
About Immune Design
Immune Design is a privately held clinical stage biotechnology company based in Seattle, WA. Immune Design brings together some of the world’s leaders in the field of molecular immunology to develop a synergistic platform of next generation vaccines designed to treat cancer, infectious diseases, allergy and autoimmune disorders. The company employs leading edge technologies which target dendritic cells for more precise activation of the immune response. A novel lentiviral vector engineered to deliver antigen-encoding nucleic acids directly to dendritic cells in vivo and a TLR-4 agonist that activates dendritic cells by up-regulating key molecules for efficient antigen presentation and produces cytokines of the Th1 type to enhance the immune response. For more information, click here.