Eli Lilly and Immunocore Limited recently announced they will collaborate in an immunotherapy-based clinical trial to evaluate the utility of Immunocore’s lead T cell receptor-based investigational drug called IMCgp100, combined with Lilly’s galunisertib (LY2157299) and merestinib (LY2801653) for melanoma treatment.
The companies will explore the durability and efficacy of potential combined regimens in patients with a diagnosis of metastatic cutaneous and uveal melanomas.
Based on the collaboration agreement, a Phase Ib/II clinical trial will be conducted to assess the preliminary efficacy and safety of IMCgp100 combined with galunisertib in patients with metastatic cutaneous melanoma. The companies will also conduct another Phase Ib/II clinical trial to assess IMCgp100 combined with merestinib in patients with metastatic uveal melanoma. Under the terms of the agreement Lilly will sponsor the trials, which are expected to begin in 2016.
IMCgp100 and galunisertib are immunotherapies for cancer treatment, developed to boost the body’s own immune system to fight cancer with complementary mechanisms of action.
Immunocore’s proprietary technology is focused on a small protein molecules called ImmTACs (Immune mobilising mTCR Against Cancer) that enables the immune system to recognise and kill cancerous cells. IMCgp100 is Immunocore’s most advanced ImmTAC.
On the other hand, Galunisertib (LY2157299 H2O) is a small molecule that has been shown in vitro to selectively block TGFβ signalling, an essential mechanism for cancer development and proliferation.
Merestinib is Lilly’s small molecule multi-kinase inhibitor that selectively blocks signalling of MET, MST1R (RON), AXL, and MKNK1/2, pathways that potentially play a role in metastatic uveal melanoma.
“This collaboration with Immunocore underscores Lilly’s commitment to discovering the potential of combination therapies, which will be key to the future of cancer care for people fighting diseases such as melanoma,” said in a recent press release Richard Gaynor, M.D., senior vice president, product development and medical affairs for Lilly Oncology. “Lilly is building a robust portfolio of potential advances in immunotherapy through our own research as well as with strategic collaborations like Immunocore.”
Both companies began collaborating in July 2014 to conduct research and to potentially develop othr breakthrough T cell-based cancer treatment developed on Immunocore’s ImmTAC platform.
“We are very pleased to be able to announce a second collaboration with Lilly after entering into a collaboration last year,” said in the press release Eliot Forster, chief executive officer of Immunocore. “Combining our ImmTAC, IMCgp100 with Lilly’s galunisertib and merestinib has the potential to transform the treatment of metastatic cutaneous and uveal melanoma. Immunocore is committed to the development of IMCgp100 in metastatic uveal and cutaneous melanoma where there is such great unmet medical need.”