Agenus Inc., a leading company in the filed of immunotherapies, has just announced the acquisition of the rights for antibodies targeting Carcinoembryonic Antigen Cell Adhesion Molecule 1 (CEACAM1), that were held by Italian biotech company Diatheva S.R.L.
CEACAM1 is a glycoprotein expressed in key cells of the immune system, specifically T cells and natural killer (NK) cells, and it was previously shown that several types of cancer, including melanoma, bladder, lung, colon, pancreas, and gastric cancers induce its overexpression.
Its increase is linked both to patients’ poor prognosis and to CEACAM1-mediated immunosuppression. This means that cancer cells increase the production of CEACAM1 protein to inhibit an immune response against them. Hence, by using antibodies targeting CEACAM1, researchers hope to enhance the activation of cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTLs) and natural killer (NK) cells to target and destroy CEACAM1-overexpressing cancer cells. The strategy may rely on treating patients with CEACAM1-targeted antibodies alone or in combination with other modulating antibodies that overcome immunosuppression mechanisms and activate anti-cancer immune responses.
Robert Stein, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Agenus Inc. commented on the company new acquisition, “CEACAM1 is emerging as a powerful immune modulator, with significant evidence that blocking its interactions could strengthen immune cells’ attack on cancer. Diatheva’s anti-CEACAM1 monoclonal antibodies expand and complement our broad portfolio of checkpoint modulators and personalized cancer vaccines, with the potential to create best-in-class combination therapies for treating patients with cancer.”
Upon this new agreement, Agenus Inc. acquires the exclusive rights for development and commercialization of CEACAM1 antibodies, representing a new step in their development of efficient therapies against cancer, infectious diseases and other immune disorders.
Professor Mauro Magnani, Ph.D., Founder and Scientific Director of Diatheva, stated, “Agenus’ proven immuno-oncology and development capabilities, represents an exciting opportunity for Diatheva’s most advanced human monoclonal antibodies. Agenus’ selection of our anti-CEACAM1 antibodies is indicative of the quality of Diatheva’s research and will support reinvestment in our company’s pipeline.”
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