Compugen’s leading therapeutic candidate COM701, an immune checkpoint inhibitor, is now undergoing pre-clinical development to advance to the clinical trial phase, with an anticipated investigational new drug (IND) filing to the FDA next year.
COM701 is a monoclonal antibody that targets CGEN-15029, an immune checkpoint protein discovered by Compugen through its unique infrastructure that performs computer simulations designed to predict and identify immune checkpoint target candidates. CGEN-15029 was then experimentally confirmed to be a receptor-like checkpoint protein that is expressed particularly on T-cells and natural killer (NK) cells, similar to PD-1.
The confirmation that it is indeed a checkpoint inhibitor came when the researchers found that CGEN-15029 overexpression hampered T-cell activation, whereas knocking down its gene induced higher levels of T-cell activation.
Compugen has found that CGEN-15029 is expressed in T-cells that infiltrate several hematological and solid tumors, making it a promising new target for future immunotherapies.
COM701 was selected among multiple candidate antibodies targeting CGEN-15029. It demonstrated potent, reproducible increase in T-cell activation, and the company believes it will induce activation of the T-cells within the tumor microenvironment, with strong anti-tumor immune responses.
The antibody has already been humanized, making it suitable to use in humans, and the company is trying to establish agreements for the antibody’s manufacturing.
“Selection of COM701 as our lead clinical candidate marks a new phase for Compugen, where we not only discover novel targets for immuno-oncology, but are now positioned to advance our discoveries into preclinical and clinical development on our own,” said Dr. Anat Cohen-Dayag, president and CEO of Compugen, in a press release.
“The rapid progress of the CGEN-15029 program, with extremely aggressive timelines from target discovery and validation to therapeutic antibody development, was made possible in large part by the identification of CGEN-15029’s binding partner and the expansion of the company’s immuno-oncology R&D infrastructure,” she said.
The company has two additional programs that are taking place in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies.
“In parallel to the CGEN-15029 program, Compugen is using this infrastructure to pursue additional novel immuno-oncology programs and is now positioned to advance them,” Cohen-Dayag said.
“In addition to the information disclosed today, the company intends to share further data with respect to the CGEN-15029 program and the status of its Pipeline Program in the coming months,” she added.