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Immunostimulatory Agonist antibodies for Cancer Therapy

Coordinator: Rienk OFFRINGA
Project Number: 602262
EC contribution: 5,995,747.00
Project website: under construction

This concerted action aims at providing new treatment options for cancer patients through boosting innovative drug development by European academia and industry. A wealth of preclinical data shows that the therapeutic impact of cytotoxic regimens is enhanced by simultaneous application of drugs that strengthen the immune system. The recent FDA-approval of Ipilimumab demonstrated that cancer immunotherapeutics constitute a clinically effective, marketable drug concept.

Ipilimumab is an antagonist immunostimulatory antibody (IS-Ab) that removes the restraint on the immune response by blocking inhibitory receptors on immune cells. Potent immunity can also be elicited by means of agonist IS-Abs that engage activatory receptors. Our program will translate the agonist IS-Ab concept into clinical treatments. This is critical, because a repertoire of complementary drugs that act at different points in the immune regulatory network will be required to counter immune failure in different cancer (sub-)types.

Our initiative is supported by longstanding experience as well as by the availability of clinical lead Abs. Pivotal are two clinical trials in which cancer type and treatment regimen have been selected to approximate pre-clinical settings in which striking therapeutic impact with agonist IS-Abs has been obtained. These studies will involve extensive analysis of efficacy-related biomarkers by means of validated assays, not only in blood samples, but also in the most relevant compartment: the tumor microenvironment.

While our state-of-the-art agonist IS-Abs are being tested in the clinic, a parallel SME-driven effort will aim at the development of 2nd generation agonist IS-Abs with superior therapeutic index. This innovation is supported by proprietary technology and will result in intellectual property and marketable drugs. Taken together, our interdisciplinary platform is designed to yield maximal benefit for health care, academia and health-related industries in Europe.

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