IMP701 is an immuno-oncology therapy for patients with advanced solid tumors. Prima BioMed developed the immune checkpoint inhibitor, but has licensed it to Novartis.

How IMP701 works

IMP701 is an antibody that targets the immune checkpoint protein LAG-3 found on the surface of various immune cells. The protein slows the activation of immune T-cells.

Immune checkpoint proteins help keep immune responses in check but can also reduce T-cells’ ability to  attack cancer cells.

One type of T-cell involved in cancer fighting is tumor-infiltrating T-cells, whose name comes from them migrating from the bloodstream to tumors. By binding to LAG-3 proteins on the surface of tumor-infiltrating T-cells, IMP701 blocks the signals that switch off the T-cells.

IMP701 also inhibits regulatory T-cells, whose normal function is to prevent tumor-infiltrating T-cells from responding to threats such as cancer.

By helping tumor-infiltrating T-cells do their job, IMP701 boosts the body’s immune response against cancer cells. This leads to the destruction of tumor cells.

IMP701 in clinical trials

A Phase 1/2 trial (NCT02460224) is evaluating IMP701’s ability to fight solid tumors. The study is assessing the treatment’s safety and participants’ ability to tolerate it. It is also examining IMP701’s  pharmacokinetics, or how it moves in the body, and its pharmacodynamics, or effect on the body.

Researchers will test IMP701 as a stand-alone therapy and in combination with another immunotherapy, PDR001.

The Phase 1 part of the study is aimed at determining the optimal dose of IMP701 for the Phase 2 part.

Phase 2 will assess patients’ overall response to treatment for 30 months. An overall response includes both full and partial responses.

The trial started in August 2015. Novartis hopes to enroll 416 patients at more than 20 sites before the study is over. The study is being conducted in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Novartiis expects the trial to be finished by October 2018.


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