California-based operation will focus on antibodies against in-house targets for cancer and immunology.

Israel-based Compugen established a U.S. subsidiary in South San Francisco, CA, to focus on the development of monoclonal antibody (mAb) drugs against Compugen-discovered targets in the fields of oncology and immunology. The move comes as part of the firm’s strategy to broaden and accelerate its mAb activities, which it announced in December 2011. This announcement coincided with Compugen securing an $8 million research funding agreement with Baize Investments.

“We are at a pivotal moment where Compugen’s unique monoclonal antibody targets discovery platform is delivering high-quality, novel mAb targets that enable the develpment of new drug candidates to address  unmet medical needs,” comments Anat Cohen Dayag, Ph.D., Compugen president and CEO. The firm’s plan is to license out its mAb product candidates.

The mAb discovery platform is based on Compugen’s LEADS and MED computational biology technologies, and utilizes multiple data sources and algorithms to predict novel membrane proteins that represent targets for antibody therapeutics against diseases including cancer and autoimmune disorders. Selection of potential candidates from the pool of membrane protein predictions is achieved using additional computational tools developed for each disease state or protein family.

Compugen currently has a portfolio of 12 novel targets that are involved either in the modulation of the immune system in cancer, or are overexpressed in cancer. Lead targets for monoclonal antibody therapeutics include CGEN-15001T, which the firm has predicted is a B7/CD28-like membrane protein, involved in regulation of the immune system in immune-related disorders and in cancer. Compugen believes that an antibody targeting the protein may elicit anticancer effects through multiple mechanisms, including direct cell killing, blocking immune system inhibition, and promoting Th1 immune responses against the cancer.

CGEN-671 is a membrane splice variant of CD55, a GPI anchored protein involved in the regulation of the complement cascade, and a potential target for the treatment of multiple epithelial tumors, Compugen believes. CD55 itself is already the target for a monoclonal antibody in clinical development as a potential treatment for gastric disease.

Compugen’s third lead target, CGEN-928, is a membrane protein that the firm’s discovery platform has predicted represents a novel target for multiple myeloma. The firm’s studies have shown that CGEN-928 is uniquely present in advanced multiple myeloma and in drug-resistant and aggressive forms of the disease.

Compugen’s protein and peptide therapeutic program is focused on the development of antibody-peptide fusion proteins for autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. 

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