Biologics research company MedImmune entered into a Phase 1/2 immunotherapy clinical trial collaboration with biotechnology company Advaxis, which develops cancer immunotherapies. The study will evaluate the safety and efficacy of MedImmune’s investigational anti-PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitor, MEDI4736, when combined with Advaxis’ immunotherapy vaccine, ADXS-HPV, as a treatment for patients with advanced, recurrent, or refractory human papillomavirus associated cervical cancer and HPV-associated head and neck cancer.
Dr. Bahija Jallal, executive vice president of MedImmune, said in a press release from AstraZeneca (MedImmune’s holder) that this collaboration could yield an important clinical benefit. As for Advaxis, its chief executive officer, Daniel O’Connor, notes this will be the first time a PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor is used with a new class of immunotherapies. “As multiple companies vie for a competitive advantage in the future PD-L1 market, the ability of our immunotherapy platform to attack multiple tumor targets makes it an attractive combination therapy,” he said.
According to information available on Advaxis’ website, ADXS-HPV is an immunotherapy under investigation for targeting cells that have been transformed into dysplastic and malignant tissues by HPV. These cells might be able to eliminate the dysplasia or malignancy. ADXS-HPV is currenty being researched for its potential to gain access to antigen-presenting cells and direct them to generate a cellular immune response to HPV E7.
MEDI4736 is also a cancer immunotherapy, a new class of treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to help fight cancer. According to AstraZeneca’s press release, this drug is designed to counter the tumor’s immune-evading tactics by blocking a signal that helps tumors avoid detection. Preclinical evidence suggests that the combination of ADXS-HPV with a checkpoint inhibitor, such as MEDI4736, can enhance overall anti-tumor response.
MedImmune and Advaxis will evaluate the combination of their drugs as a treatment for HPV-associated cervical cancer and squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. The Phase 1 trial should establish a recommended dose regimen of the combo therapy, while Phase 2 will evaluate the safety and efficacy of the combination.