Lycera Corp., a biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the development of oral immunomodulatory medicines for autoimmune diseases and cancer, has announced it will present the first results from its immune-oncology RORgamma agonist program at the 2015 Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) meeting. The poster reporting key findings is entitled “RORgamma Agonists Enhance Survival and Memory of Type 17 T Cells and Improve anti-Tumor Activity.”
RORgamma is a transcription factor protein involved in crucial pathways of lymphoid development and differentiation, along with activation of T helper 17 (Th17) and cytotoxic T cells. These immune cells play crucial roles in adaptive immunity and have been shown to reduce tumor progression in mice models.
The research team include scientists from Lycera, the University of Michigan and the Medical University of South Carolina, and will cover topics like anti-cancer activity, decrease of immune suppression and overall improvement of TH17 and cytotoxic T cell activity. Scientists will present results from in vitro studies showing that RORgamma agonists increase the production and expression of immune stimulatory cytokines such as interleukin-17 (IL17A and IL-17F), maintain levels of the critical cytokine INF-gamma, and reduced the expression of inhibitory molecules such as PD-1 (targets of immune checkpoint inhibitors).
Additionally, in vivo data showed that administration of RORgamma agonist-treated T cells to tumor-bearing mice as an adoptive cell therapy led to “extended persistence of cytokine-producing T cells in vivo; increased tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs); reduced immune suppression as measured by decreased PD-1 expression in TILs; and enhanced presence of long-lasting memory immune cells in the spleen,” according to a press release. Moreover, RORgamma agonists treatment in syngeneic tumor models led to an immune-dependent inhibition of tumor growth when compared to controls.
Paul Sekhri, President and CEO of Lycera, stated, “We are pleased to report the ongoing progress of our lead immuno-oncology program, including further confirmation of findings showing that our RORgamma agonists resulted in inhibition of tumor growth, a shift in the balance toward immune stimulation and away from immune suppression, and the persistence of memory cells. These and other key findings point to the potential of our platform and approach to developing this next-generation approach to cancer immunotherapy.”
The SITC meeting takes place Nov. 4–8, 2015, in National Harbor, Maryland.