VentiRx Pharmaceuticals, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel Toll-like receptor 8 (TLR8) drugs, has announced it is partnering with the Ludwig Cancer Research and the Cancer Research Institute (CRI) on a new immuno-oncology combo development effort with AstraZeneca’s checkpoint inhibitor MEDI-4736 and VentiRx’s motolimod (VTX-2337).
This comes as a followup to the recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Fast Track designation to the investigation of motolimod when administered in combination with pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD) for the treatment of women with ovarian cancer.
“Ludwig’s mission is to conduct basic, applied and clinical research to support the swift development of game-changing cancer therapies. Motolimod holds considerable promise as a cancer drug, particularly as a component of combination immunotherapies. We look forward to working with VentiRx to assess its potential in clinical trials, as part of our effort to bring powerful new immunotherapies as quickly as possible to cancer patients,” Jonathan Skipper, PhD, Ludwig’s executive director of technology development said in a VentiRx press release.
Efforts have been made to combine cancer vaccines and checkpoint inhibitors, since responses can be limited to 20%-30% of the patients with checkpoint inhibitor monotherapies and vaccines can sometimes result in marginal effects only. However, upon combination therapy, a drug can have a significantly higher impact on a wider group.
Ludwig Cancer Research intends to gather data in real time from a single arm of the VentiRx Phase II clinical trial, a study currently testing motolimod in combination with PLD in 297 patients with ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer who have failed prior platinum-based chemotherapy. This will allow the biotech to gain some insight into the combo’s potential along the same time lines.
“Our collaboration with VentiRx is part of a broader programmatic effort to partner with top biotech and pharmaceutical companies to develop novel combinations of treatments that may work better together than each would alone. By making it possible for leading academic oncologists to bring together the most promising and mechanistically distinct drugs from different companies, we are able to deliver powerful new treatments to cancer patients today while helping the field unlock immunotherapy’s full potential more quickly,” Adam Kolom, managing director of CRI’s venture fund added in the press release.