Over the last couple of years we have heard much about targeting various checkpoints that exert an inhibitory effect on the immune system and the T cells, in particular. The main targets where we have a growing body of evidence to date are CTLA-4, PD-1 and PD-L1, but there are others including LAG-3, TIM-3, ICOS etc.
Earlier this year at AACR, we saw new evidence that combining two checkpoints (anti-CTLA4 and anti-PD1) was superior to monotherapy in metastatic melanoma, albeit with a concomitant increase in toxicities.
What about the other inhibitory signals though? Are they bystanders, much like passenger mutations that have little effect, or do they matter, at least in some tumor types? If so, which ones?
We took a look at some of the emerging data associated with targeting TIM-3 – the results may well surprise some observers.
Several groups have banded together to produce the first CRI-CIMT-EATI-AACR International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference (Twitter #cicon15) which focuses on the science underlying the immune system as it relates to cancer. You can view the program agenda here.
These groups include the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), Cancer Research Institute (CRI), Association for Cancer Immunotherapy (CIMT), the European Academy of Tumor Immunology (EATI).
We’ll hopefully be covering key abstracts at this event over the next few days and reporting on not only what the data is, but also the broader significance of the findings.
Oxford based Immunocore is an emerging UK biotechnology company that should be on your radar if you’re following companies such as Kite Pharmaceuticals and Juno Therapeutics. If it isn’t already you can expect to hear a lot more about them in the forthcoming year as they start clinical trials with the many leading global pharma companies who have already partnered with them.
Dr Namir Hassan, Immunocore
Immunocore is an immuno-oncology company with an innovative approach to targeting T Cell Receptors (TCR) using their proprietary ImmTAC (Immune mobilising monoclonal TCRs against cancer) technology platform.
Namir Hassan, D.Phil (pictured right) is Director of Translational Research and Head of Development at Immunocore. BSB met with him and Chief Business Officer, Eva-Lotta Allan at the company offices located in a science and business park near Oxford.
Immunocore recently raised $320M in Europe’s largest private life sciences funding. (Link to Press Release)
Earlier this year preliminary clinical data for IMCgp100 their first-in-class novel immunotherapy was presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in Philadelphia by Mark Middleton, Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine at the University of Oxford.
In the interview, excerpts of which you can read below, Dr Hassan explained why their exciting and innovative approach that targets the T Cell Receptor is different from other companies in the field, what they have learned from the preliminary clinical data, and the potential immTACs may offer in combination with other cancer immunotherapies.
If you’re not a cancer immunologist, this type of science is complex, so the aim of the interview was to put into context the data already in the public domain and gain some insights into the excitement behind ImmTACs and what immunocore are doing. If you don’t understand the potential of TCRs and ImmTACs as immunotherapies, this post is for you!
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