As per latest update from Imugene Limited (ASX: IMU), the prominent City of Hope researchers have received a Grant of USD 564,173 from the US Department of Defense to study the company’s Oncolytic Virotherapy (OV) CF33 in gastric cancer.
Marking a significant milestone, the grant received by the researchers is titled as “Discovery of Immune Biomarkers That Predict Response to a Novel Chimeric Immuno-Oncolytic Virus Encoding Anti-PD-L1 in Gastric Cancer Peritoneal Carcinomatosis.”
Imugene is an Australian-headquartered clinical stage immuno-oncology firm that seeks to develop various novel and new immunotherapies to enhance the effectiveness of cancer treatments. The company has a strong product pipeline which includes CF33 and numerous immunotherapy B-cell vaccine candidates that intend to treat different forms of cancer in combination with standard of care medications and developing immunotherapies.
In July this year, the company notified about its proposal to license CF33 from City of Hope, which is subject to many customary conditions precedent and the approval by shareholders at the Extraordinary General Meeting, which is likely to be held on 18th of November, 2019.
Based near Los Angeles, City of Hope is an internationally recognised independent research and treatment center for diabetes, cancer and other deadly diseases.
Details of Grant
Imugene informed that the Grant is received by City of Hope researchers Yuman Fong, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery and Yanghee Woo, MD, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Surgery and Director, Gastroenterology Minimally Invasive Therapy Program, to expand the development of CF33.
The grant is centred on gastric cancer disease that affects the US veterans, military service members and their beneficiaries disproportionately, who have increased exposure to dangerous environmental risk factors, like Epstein-Barr viral infections, tobacco smoking, H. pylori and radiation.
Imugene’s Role in Gastric Cancer Therapy
Imugene noted that gastric cancer can evolve into Peritoneal carcinomatosis (PC), which is fatal with no effective treatment. Also, more than 60 per cent of all gastric cancer patients across military families and the general population are at risk of developing the peritoneal disease as the most prevalent indication of recurrence or metastatic presentation.
The company mentioned that the progression of primary gastric cancer to peritoneal carcinomatosis is supported by the unique peritoneal tumour microenvironment, where metastatic peritoneal seeding needs maintenance of a highly immunosuppressive microenvironment and evasion of anti-tumour immunity.
As per City of Hope researchers, a combined approach using IMU’s proposed license for CF33 armed with an anti-PD-L1 antibody (Ab) as immune modulator could convert the immunologically ‘cold’ environment of peritoneal carcinomatosis into a ‘hot’ environment, specifically kill cancer cells and enhance the overall effectiveness of gastric cancer therapy.
According to Ms Leslie Chong, MD and CEO of Imugene, both City of Hope and the company are committed to help enhance the quality and length of life for gastric cancer patients.
About City of Hope Researchers
Dr. Woo is a surgeon-scientist at City of Hope, who is internationally recognised and specially trained in gastric cancer and robotic surgery. Particularly, she holds an expertise in complex procedures like D2 lymphadenectomy for the treatment of locally advanced gastric cancer. She is one of the rare surgeons who treat pancreatic cancer and gastric cancer by making use of minimally invasive procedures.
She offers her patients entirely robotic and laparoscopic surgeries (for pancreas and stomach tumours) with optimal oncologic results while safeguarding the quality of life of cancer patients.
The world-renowned expert in pancreatic and liver cancer, Dr Fong is a pioneer both in the laboratory and the operating room. He is the Sangiacomo Family Chair in Surgical Oncology and the MD, Chair and Professor, Department of Surgery. He has developed a lot of new surgical instruments and techniques.
The CF33 oncolytic virus was also developed by Dr Fong in the lab at the City of Hope. Recently, he has been appointed by Imugene to lead its Oncolytic Virotherapy Scientific Advisory Board.
Imugene has congratulated Dr. Woo and Dr. Fong on receiving the sizable Grant from the US Department of Defense. The company feels honoured to work on the development of CF33 with the prolific and prestigious team of the City of Hope. Moreover, the company is planning to conduct CF33’s Phase 1 clinical trials in 2020 to examine a Vaxinia construct and a CheckVacc construct of CF33.
Imugene is well positioned on the path to deliver on its clinical and commercial milestones. The company strongly believes that its immuno-oncology treatments will become foundation therapies for cancer.
Stock Performance: As on 24 October 2019, IMU is currently trading at $0.023 with a rise of 4.5 per cent. The stock has delivered a substantial return of 101 per cent in the last five years with a YTD return of 22.2%.
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