Germany’s National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) and Noxxon Pharma inked an agreement under which the NCT will carry out a Phase I/II study evaluating cancer therapy using Noxxon’s lead Spiegelmer candidate NOX-A12 (olaptesed pegol) with Merck and Co.'s anti-programmed cell death protein 1 (anti-PD-1) inhibitor Keytruda® (pembrolizumab) in patients with metastatic pancreatic and colorectal cancer. NOX-A12 targets the CXCL12 chemokine (also known as stromal cell-derived factor-1, or SDF-1, in the tumor microenvironment.

Noxxon says preclinical studies have indicated that NOX-A12 can make the tumor microenvironment more accessible to the immune system, which could improve the sensitivity of some tumors to checkpoint inhibitors such as Keytruda.

The Phase I/II study will be led by Professor Dr. Dirk Jäger, managing director, head of the clinical and tumor immunology research groups, and Dr. Niels Halama, group leader.  “Professor Jäger commented, “This trial will enable us to explore the potential of NOX-A12 in combination with Keytruda to benefit patients with few viable treatment options. Importantly, the trial will help us to better understand the ability of NOX-A12 to modify the tumor microenvironment and make it more accessible to the immune system to facilitate tumor destruction.”

Located in Heidelberg, the NCT was set up in 2004 by the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg University Hospital Medical Faculty, and German Cancer Aid, to carry out interdisciplinary research into cancer prevention and therapy.  

Noxxon and Merck and Co. signed their collaboration agreement to carry out a trial combining NOX-A12 with Keytruda in pancreatic and colorectal cancer back in 2015.

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