Hummingbird Bioscience entered into an agreement with Mycenax Biotech, a CDMO, for the production of material for the Phase 1 clinical trial of its HMBD-002 program, which is anticipated to start in the second half of 2020. HMBD-002 is an anti-VISTA antibody developed for solid tumors that are unresponsive to existing treatments. VISTA is a new and important target for cancer as it strongly suppresses the activation of the body’s anti-tumor immune response, says Jerome Boyd-Kirkup, PhD, CSO and co-founder of Hummingbird Bioscience, adding that the presence of VISTA cells is frequently associated with the emergence of tumors and resistance to current cancer immunotherapies.

HMBD-002 blocks VISTA’s activation, turning off the signal that keeps immune cells dormant. Critically, unlike other investigational anti-VISTA agents, HMBD-002 does not remove VISTA-expressing cells from the body, thus allowing many of these cells to become active tumor-killing cells, continues Boyd-Kirkup. Preclinical studies have shown that HMBD-002 can strongly inhibit tumor growth, both as a monotherapy and even more potently when combined with anti-PD(L)1 treatment, according to the scientist.

“We are pleased to be working with Mycenax, a pioneering provider of high-quality biologics, for the production of our anti-VISTA antibody, HMBD-002,” adds Boyd-Kirkup. “This contract takes us one step closer to realizing the goal of more effective immunotherapies for a broader population of individuals with cancer.”

“We think HMBD-002 has great therapeutic potential and we are honored and excited to work with Hummingbird Bioscience on this project” says Pei-Jiun Chen, PhD, CEO and president of Mycenax. “We are committed to providing professional and customized service to facilitate the progress of the project. We are optimistic that, with our expertise and capability in CMC and production, HMBD-002 will be able to enter clinical trials and show therapeutic benefits soon.”

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