The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is funding Valor Biotherapeutics—the ImmunGene and Caliber joint venture—approximately $6 million to complete preclinical development, manufacturing, and a Phase I clinical trial for the JV’s Anti-CD20-Interferon Alpha Fusion Protein (IGN002), a drug candidate for patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) who are resistant to standard therapy.

The society noted that Valor’s IGN002 is produced by fusing antibodies to tumor cell-killing cytokines, creating a therapeutic agent with multiple properties in a single, genetically engineered molecule.

“The result is not just a simple combination of two clinically validated anti-cancer drugs, rituximab and interferon alpha,” LLS said in a statement. “The fusion molecule directs a targeted interferon alpha mediated cytotoxic effect on lymphoma cells leading to dramatically improved efficacy and safety profiles in preclinical studies.”

“IGN002 has demonstrated dramatic efficacy in rituximab-resistant preclinical models. The financial commitment by our JV partner, Caliber and the LLS will help in advancing this program to the proof-of-concept study in NHL patients. Our R&D team is very excited to work with the LLS and Valor, to advance IGN002 to the clinic,” Sanjay D. Khare, Ph.D., president and CEO of ImmunGene, said in a statement. “This study will help us in understanding the utility of the technology for several other programs in the ImmunGene pipeline.”

LLS added that the clinical trial studying IGN002 is slated to begin in late 2015.

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