The first patient has been dosed in the combination therapy of the Phase 1/2a study evaluating Nektar’s CD122-preferential IL-2 pathway agonist with Vaccibody’s personalized neoantigen cancer vaccine, in patients with advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN).
“We’re pleased to advance our collaboration with Vaccibody to evaluate the potential of bempeg given with a personalized vaccine, VB10.NEO, in patients with advanced head and neck cancer,” says Jonathan Zalevsky, Chief Research & Development Officer at Nektar. “The rationale for this clinical study is supported by our promising preclinical data which demonstrated how a personalized cancer vaccine and a T cell proliferator can work synergistically to induce maximal expansion of vaccine-induced T cell clones, provide deep and durable responses and, at the same time, offer specific anti-tumor immunity.”
Addition of bempeg to VB10.NEO
VB10.NEO is designed to specifically activate a patient’s immune system to tumorspecific antigens, called neoantigens, while bempeg is designed to expand and proliferate tumor antigen-specific T cells in the periphery and in the tumor microenvironment. Addition of bempeg to VB10.NEO is intended to drive maximal expansion of vaccine-induced neoantigen-specific T cells for the treatment of cancer.
At the 2019 Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) Annual Meeting, Vaccibody presented interim data for VB10.NEO in a group of patients with various solid tumor types who had all received multiple lines of prior anti-cancer therapy and had been treated with at least one checkpoint inhibitor (CPI) (nivolumab or pembrolizumab) for a range of 5 to 32 months. The data presented showed that 50 percent (7/14) of patients treated with VB10.NEO achieved clinical responses, including four patients with SCCHN. Clinical response was defined as either >10% reduction in the target lesions (as identified at screening) or converting progressive lesions into stable lesions (<20% increase, up to 37 weeks follow-up).
Potentially deepen and broaden anti-tumor activity
“We are pleased that our initial data with VB10.NEO demonstrated that the vaccine induced strong neoantigen-specific T cell responses and clinical benefit, particularly in patients who did not respond to checkpoint inhibitor monotherapy,” says Agnete Fredriksen, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Vaccibody. “We believe combining bempeg, a T cell stimulator, with VB10.NEO can further drive the expansion of VB10.NEO elicited neoantigen-specific T cells and potentially deepen and broaden anti-tumor activity.”
Preclinical studies evaluating the combination of VB10.NEO and bempeg demonstrated the synergy of the two mechanisms to elicit greater breadth and depth of neoantigenspecific T cell responses as compared to each agent individually. In preclinical models of solid tumors, the combination induced strong immunogenic CD8+ T cell responses, and when combined with anti-PD-1, induced rapid, complete and durable tumor regression of small tumors, and l\ ong-lasting disease control of large tumors.
Photo of Agnete B Fredriksen: Vaccibody