HOLON, Israel, Feb. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- In an oral presentation today at the New York Academy of Sciences' Emerging Approaches to Cancer Immunotherapy conference, John Hunter, Ph.D., Site Head and Vice President of Antibody R&D at Compugen USA, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Compugen Ltd. (NASDAQ: CGEN), presented results for CGEN-15029, the lead internal program in the Company's immuno-oncology therapeutics pipeline. CGEN-15029 is one of the multiple novel immune checkpoint target candidates discovered by the Company through the use of its unique in silico predictive discovery capabilities.
Dr. Hunter's presentation included details of recent progress achieved for the CGEN-15029 antibody program, including the successful discovery of blocking antibodies and biophysical information for the lead antibodies. In his presentation, Dr. Hunter reviewed the expression data for CGEN-15029 in relevant subsets of T and NK cells, demonstrating expression in tumor infiltrating lymphocytes that populate the tumor microenvironment of multiple types of cancers. Specifically, expression of CGEN-15029 was shown to be highly correlated with the known immune checkpoints PD-1, TIM-3 and TIGIT in various solid tumors, suggesting that it plays a similar role in preventing T-cell response to tumor cells, and consistent with previous experiments in which the Company has demonstrated that increased expression of CGEN-15029 inhibits T-cell activation. Additional data was presented demonstrating the binding of CGEN-15029 to its ligand ("binding partner"), which was identified during CGEN-15029's target validation efforts.
Dr. Hunter also disclosed that Compugen has identified a panel of antibodies that bind to CGEN-15029 with very high affinity and disrupt the interaction with its ligand, a mechanism of action common to other antibodies serving as immune checkpoint inhibitors. Based on the expression data and additional mechanistic results presented for selected antibodies, such antibody therapeutic candidates targeting CGEN-15029 are predicted to exert an immune stimulatory effect in the tumor microenvironment, thus allowing the immune system to attack the cancer cells.
Anat Cohen-Dayag, Ph.D., Compugen's President and Chief Executive Officer stated, "We are pleased to present today these important results for therapeutic antibodies in our lead internal program CGEN-15029, a novel immune checkpoint target candidate for the treatment of cancer. Our identification of a binding partner during CGEN-15029's target validation efforts has provided a much clearer path towards discovery and development of therapeutic antibodies against the target. Accordingly, we have successfully progressed through antibody discovery and identified antibodies that meet our key selection criteria for therapeutic candidates. We are now at the stage of selecting the therapeutic clinical candidate which we plan to advance to IND enabling studies, and are finalizing work plans for such advancement on various fronts, including manufacturing, preclinical and regulatory. We consider CGEN-15029 to be a very promising therapeutic and commercial opportunity, and look forward to disclosing further information regarding the program in the coming months."
Dr. Cohen-Dayag added, "The accumulating clinical results for the small number of cancer immunotherapy drugs currently available show that while some patients achieve remarkable long-term remissions, the majority of cancer patients experience little, if any, benefit. This highlights the need for additional checkpoint-based therapies and other immuno-oncology drugs in order to provide a more inclusive solution to cancer. Therefore, the continuing demonstration of the potential value for the novel immune checkpoint target candidates discovered by the Company, such as CGEN-15029, in a variety of cancers and immune cell sub-types is very exciting from both a medical and commercial standpoint."
About Immune Checkpoints
Immune checkpoints are inhibitory receptors and their ligands, which are crucial for the maintenance of self-tolerance (that is, the prevention of autoimmunity) and for the protection of tissues from damage when the immune system is responding to pathogenic infection or other injuries. These immune checkpoints, which are "hijacked" by tumors to block the ability of the immune system to destroy the tumor (immune resistance), have emerged as promising targets for cancer immunotherapy, and have shifted the treatment paradigms for several major cancer types. Therapeutic blockade of immune checkpoints boosts anti-tumor immunity, enabling the patient's immune system to recognize and attack the tumor cells, and mount durable anti-tumor responses and tumor destruction. Although to date the blockade of immune checkpoints has proven effective for only a minority of patients in a limited, but growing number of cancer types, it has provided impressive clinical benefits, enabling long-term survival, even for end-stage patients, and is transforming cancer therapeutics.
Compugen is a leading therapeutic discovery company utilizing its broadly applicable predictive discovery infrastructure to identify novel drug targets and develop first-in-class biologics. The primary focus of the Company's current pipeline is on immune checkpoint target candidates discovered by the Company, potentially providing the basis for a next wave of therapeutics for cancer immunotherapy. Compugen's business model is based on selectively entering into collaborations for its novel target candidates and drug product candidates at various stages of research and development under revenue-sharing agreements. The Company is headquartered in Israel, with R&D facilities in Israel and South San Francisco. At the US facilities, monoclonal antibody therapeutic candidates are discovered and developed against the Company's novel target candidates. For additional information, please visit Compugen's corporate website at http://www.cgen.com.
This press release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of terminology such as "will," "may," "expects," "anticipates," "believes," and "intends," and describe opinions about future events. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Compugen to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Among these risks: Compugen's business model is substantially dependent on entering into collaboration agreements with third parties and may not be successful in generating revenues or commercializing aspects of our business model, and the development and commercialization of therapeutic candidates involve many inherent risks, including failure to progress to clinical trials or, if they progress to or enter clinical trials, failure to receive regulatory approval. These and other factors are more fully discussed in the "Risk Factors" section of Compugen's most recent Annual Report on Form 20-F as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission as well as other documents that may be subsequently filed by Compugen from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition, any forward-looking statements represent Compugen's views only as of the date of this release and should not be relied upon as representing its views as of any subsequent date. Compugen does not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statements unless required by law.
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SOURCE Compugen Ltd.