ImmunoCellular Therapeutics entered an option agreement with The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center relating to an immunotherapy targeting cancer stem cells (CSCs). The treatment has reportedly demonstrated the ability to target and destroy CSCs in animal models.
The optioned immunotherapy targets CSCs using abnormal Notch and Numb pathways, two mechanisms implicated in solid tumors. Research indicates that cytotoxic T cells induced by these peptides preferentially target cancer stem cells derived from breast, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers.
This agreement adds to ImmunoCellular’s pipeline of CSC-targeting treatments. ICT-107, a dendritic cell-based immunotherapy, is the lead candidate and recently completed a Phase I study in glioblastoma. ICT-121 is an off-the-shelf peptide that targets CSCs and is scheduled to enter clinical trials for glioblastoma during the first quarter of 2010. Additionally, ImmunoCellular has another preclinical mAb candidate for the treatment of small-cell lung cancer and pancreatic cancer.
“This latest addition to our portfolio of CSC-targeting therapies should serve to further increase our ability to specifically identify and destroy these important tumor building blocks by targeting additional pathways that were not addressed by our current portfolio,” remarks Manish Singh, Ph.D., president and CEO.
“By acquiring rights to this previously unaddressed pathway, we are now well positioned to continue development of a therapy that will enhance our ability to target these important cells, which we believe may lead to more effective and better-tolerated treatments that are capable of targeting a number of different tumor types.”
ImmunoCellular also has a research and license option deal with Roche for one of its mAbs for the diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer and multiple myeloma. The company stands to earn up to $32 million in licensing and milestone payments plus royalties if Roche exercises its option and commercializes the technology for multiple indications.