Compugen Ltd. (NASDAQ: CGEN) announced today results demonstrating the therapeutic potential of CGEN-15022, a Compugen-discovered B7/CD28-like membrane protein, as an immune checkpoint target for treatment of multiple cancers.
The results indicate that CGEN-15022 is expressed in numerous types of epithelial cancers with significant unmet clinical needs, such as liver, colorectal, lung and ovarian cancers.
These findings, together with previously disclosed results pointing to its negative costimulatory activity, strongly support CGEN-15022’s potential as a compelling drug target for treatment of these cancers through monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy, an area of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry.
The Company previously announced that CGEN-15001T, the first protein to undergo validation, of nine novel molecules predicted in silico by Compugen to be B7/CD28-like proteins, demonstrated expression in solid cancers and hematological malignancies, such as prostate cancer, melanoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, such as T and B cell lymphomas.
The different expression profiles of CGEN-15022 and CGEN-15001T not only provide important differentiating characteristics between the two novel targets, but also offer promising opportunities for utilizing these proteins as mAb targets in order to treat a broad set of key cancer indications with significant unmet medical needs.
Negative costimulatory proteins play critical roles as immune checkpoints, turning down or silencing the active immune system to prevent autoimmunity and to protect tissues from damage during inflammation.
Tumor cells “highjack” this process and express these immune checkpoints in order to protect the tumor from destruction by the immune system. Therefore utilizing an antibody to block this function is predicted to remove the immune silencing effect and enable the immune system to attack and destroy the tumor, thus serving as a very promising approach for cancer immunotherapy.
Furthermore, since the extracellular domain of the protein is responsible for the immune silencing effect, a soluble Fc fused protein presenting the extracellular domain of the protein should have therapeutic potential for immune related diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis.
To date, Compugen has announced that five out of the first six B7/CD28-like proteins to undergo experimental testing, have demonstrated positive results in well-established disease animal models for various immune related diseases.
Dr. Anat Cohen-Dayag, President and CEO of Compugen, remarked, “We are very proud of the fact that our first market-driven discovery effort using our unique and broadly applicable predictive infrastructure built over the last decade resulted in the prediction of nine separate and distinct B7/CD28-like molecules, such as CGEN-15001T and CGEN-15022. These two novel molecules are now demonstrating significant potential as monoclonal antibody targets for immunotherapy, one of the most promising new approaches for the treatment of various cancers and an approach that has lately been the subject of great enthusiasm. For example, at the recent annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, studies were reported demonstrating great promise for monoclonal antibodies based on this approach as a long-term therapy for cancer, resulting in widespread interest and media coverage.”
Dr. Cohen-Dayag continued, “In addition, the potential value of our B7/CD28-like discoveries is further substantially enhanced by the fact that five soluble proteins based on these molecules have demonstrated positive disease animal model results for various autoimmune diseases and are now under further development in our Pipeline Program.”