Sprint Bioscience has announced that a new scientific study with positive data concerning the company’s lead compound SB02024 has been published in Science Advances.
The research results show that SB02024 activates the immune system in tumors in malignant melanoma and colorectal cancer. Sprint Bioscience is thus first in the world to demonstrate that inhibition of the Vps34 protein and the autophagy of tumor cells can be an important part of future immunological treatments, states the company in its press release.
“Sprint Bioscience’s business concept is to identify promising drug substances, at an early preclinical stage, that are attractive for global pharmaceutical companies to develop into clinical use in patients. The study results presented today show that one of our drug substances enhances the immune-oncological response in tumors in a completely new way, something which is necessary in order to take the next step in the development of immuno-oncology and increase the proportion of patients who are helped by the treatments,” says Jessica Martinsson, CEO of Sprint Bioscience.
Activated autophagy also helps tumor cells escape the immune system
The data published shows for the first time that activated autophagy also helps tumor cells escape the immune system. Sprint Bioscience lead compound SB02024 blocks the autophagy of tumor cells by inhibiting the protein Vps34. When autophagy is blocked, the tumor cells become visible to the immune system again.
The preclinical results published in Science Advances show that SB02024 greatly increased the infiltration of immune cells into tumors of malignant melanoma and colorectal cancer, resulting in reduced tumor growth. The results support the continued development of SB02024 both as a single agent and in combination with other immunologic drugs.
The compound increased the number of active immune cells such as NK cells and T cells in the tumor, indicating the ability of the drug candidate to activate the body’s own defense against cancer. To visualize Vps34 inhibition as driving the effects demonstrated, studies have been done with tumors in which the Vps34 gene has been knocked out and also studies of another known Vps34 inhibitory molecule, SAR405. Both of these validation studies showed the same effect as SB02024 and confirm the value of Vps34 inhibition in cancer therapy.
At the same time, studies in mice showed that SB02024 has the ability to significantly improve the therapeutic efficacy of PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors, the class of immunologic drugs currently leading the field but which have proven in several cancer indications to have insufficient efficacy as monotherapy. This is the first time scientific data has been presented that clearly shows that Vps34 inhibition makes tumors in the skin and gut more susceptible to checkpoint inhibitor therapy.
The research presented in Science Advances is conducted together with Dr. Bassam Janji at the Luxembourg Institute of Health.
Photo of Jessica Martinsson: Sprint Bioscience