NewLink Genetics Corporation has announced the beginning of an exclusive license agreement with Genentech for the development of NLG919, an IDO pathway inhibitor. Furthermore, both companies will also collaborate in the research for next generation IDO/TDO compounds.
Belonging to the growing class of checkpoint inhibitors, such as CTLA-4, PD-1 and PD-L1 monoclonal antibodies, IDO pathway inhibitors can regulate immune responses by suppressing tumor cell survival, growth and invasion.
This pathway is active in different types of tumors, and is responsible for suppressing T cell activation, allowing cancer cells to expand and avoid immune surveillance, which ultimately results in the development of distant metastasis.
Furthermore, the IDO pathway is also present in antigen presenting cells (APCs) in tumor draining lymph nodes, promoting peripheral tolerance to tumor associated antigens.
NewLink has several active programs aimed towards the development of synthesizing inhibitors to the IDO pathway. Furthermore, the company was responsible for the discovery of novel tryptophan-2,3-dioxygenase (TDO) inhibitors, a group of potential anti-cancer compounds that could work individually or in combination with IDO inhibition.
According to the recent agreement, NewLink will receive an initial payment of $150 million and will be eligible to receive in excess of $1 billion, depending on the completion of certain research milestones.
All future research and development, along with manufacturing and commercialization costs, will be funded by Genentech.
NLG919 development will continued to be pursued by NewLink, together with its novel HyperAcute vaccine platform, an immunotherapy platform composed of human, tumor-specific cancer cell lines that have been modified to express alpha-gal, a carbohydrate to which humans have preexisting immunity, that can stimulate a rapid and efficient immune response against malignant cancer cells.
“This alliance enables us to accelerate and expand development of NLG919 while we continue to advance our other promising clinical and preclinical development programs,” Dr. Charles Link, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NewLink, said in a company’s press release. “Genentech’s oncology development expertise, commercial leadership and history of successful strategic alliances make it an ideal collaborator to bring the potential benefits of NLG919 to patients.”
“We are intrigued by the biology of the IDO and TDO compounds and are very interested in the potential to combine them with Genentech’sportfolio of novel therapies,” added James Sabry, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Genentech Partnering.”We are delighted to have initiated this significant partnership with NewLink. We hope this collaboration will lead to new therapies for people with cancer.”