The first patients have been dosed in a Phase II trial for GSK2831781, GSK’s ulcerative colitis candidate based on Immutep’s depleting anti-LAG antibody technology.
In 2010, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) licensed ImmuTune-IMP731, a therapeutic antibody for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, from Immutep in a deal that included milestone payments of £64 million ($80 million).
This week, GSK is paying out £4 million of this due to the first patient being dosed in GSK’s Phase II clinical trial evaluating the candidate – now known as GSK2831781 – in ulcerative colitis.
Immutep described the milestone payment as further validation of his firm’s depleting anti-LAG antibody technology, a cytotoxic monoclonal antibody (MAb) that will kill the LAG-3+ activated T cells that infiltrate autoimmune disease sites.
“It belongs to the next wave of innovative products that target the underlying cause of autoimmune diseases, namely the few auto-reactive T cells that accumulate at an organ site to destroy it,” the company told this publication.
“LAG-3 is probably the most promising immune checkpoint beyond PD-1 (blockbuster drugs like Keytruda) and CTLA-4. Prof. Frederic Triebel, our CSO and CMO, is the world leading LAG-3 scientist, and the instigator of the entire sector, having discovered LAG-3 in 1990.”
Along with GSK, Immutep has licenses in place with Novartis, Merck & Co., and Pfizer for anti-LAG antibodies targeting different disease areas.
However, Immutep is also developing its own antibodies, with lead product eftilagimod alpha, a LAG-3Ig fusion protein, being tested in multiple clinical trials in different cancer indications.
According to the firm, eftilagimod alpha is manufactured by WuXi Biologics in China at clinical scale, while its other candidates are made at various other contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs). Partnered products including GSK2831781 are under control of the respective license partners.