IDO-derived cancer vaccine scores in combo trial with Keytruda; Vir teams up with WuXi on coronavirus antibodies
→ Copenhagen-based IO Biotech said that its cancer vaccine has passed the high bar set for its interim futility analysis in Phase II, showing “a substantially higher” overall response rate among non-small cell lung cancer patients when combined to Keytruda than the PD-1 alone —which according to the company induced historical ORR of 39%.
Investigators will carry on evaluating IO-102 plus Keytruda, with final data expected by the end of the year. The candidate is an IDO-derived peptide sequence designed to stir up T cell action against IDO — the enzyme target for an ill-fated class of small molecule drugs. “In that sense you have flags on the surface of immune suppressive cells and [tumor cells] that our T cells can recognize and thereby actually get rid of those IDO positive cells, hence a completely different MOA than IDO SMI,” CEO Mai-Britt Zocca told Endpoints News.
IO Biotech is funding the study while partner Merck gets to share the results. A cocktail of IO102 and IO103 — which directs T cells against PD-L1 — is being tested in combination with Opdivo for melanoma patients.
→ A month after joining the hunt for antibodies that could treat Covid-19, Vir Biotechnology is enlisting WuXi Biologics to do the cell-line development, process and formulation development as well as initial manufacturing. The San Francisco-based startup said it’s identified a number of monoclonal antibodies that bind to SARS-CoV-2, isolated from individuals who had survived SARS. A deal with WuXi — which gives the powerful CRO rights to commercialize in China — positions them for quick advancement, CEO George Scangos said.
→ AstraZeneca has divested another gastrointestinal drug, collecting $52.5 million upfront from RedHill Biopharma for partial rights to Movantik. The drug, which was originally developed by Nektar Therapeutics to treat opioid-induced constipation, generated US sales of $96 million last year (Daiichi Sankyo shares some of the profits). AstraZeneca will continue to supply the drug for a while.
→ Parisian biotech Scipio bioscience, which helps research and clinical labs with single-cell sequencing, has secured €6 million in Series A funding. The money will fuel the final development of its single-cell RNA-sequencing kit, as well as marketing and business development efforts to prepare for commercial launch in 2022.