Biotech company Immutep (ASX: IMM) has been granted a US patent directed to embodiments of LAG525, a humanised form of its IMP701 antibody.
The patent is directed to nucleic acid molecules which code for the LAG525 antibody in immunotherapy for solid tumours, blood cancer and breast cancer (in partnership with Novartis AG).
It is also directed to expression vectors and host cells that comprise these nucleic acids, and to methods of producing the LAG525 antibody by culturing the host cells of the invention.
The patent will be co-owned by Immutep and Novartis.
LAG525 is being evaluated in five clinical trials in combination with the programmed cell death protein 1 (PD1) inhibitor spartalizumab developed by Novartis for the treatment of various cancers.
Novartis has full responsibility for the continued development of the antibody program and Immutep is eligible to receive development-based milestone payments and royalties on sales following commercialisation of the antibody.
In late 2019, Immutep was granted a Japanese and European patent for the use of LAG525 in the treatment of cancer and infectious disease.
IMP701 was originally developed by Immutep to target a cell surface molecule known as Lymphocyte Activation Gene-3 (LAG-3), which plays a vital role in regulating immune-responsive T cells.
As an antagonist antibody, it plays a role in controlling the signalling pathways in both effector T cells and regulatory T cells (Treg), working to activate the former by blocking inhibitory signals, which would otherwise switch them off, and inhibiting the Treg function, which would normally prevent T cells from responding to antigen stimulation.
IMP701 removes two “brakes” which prevent the immune system from responding to and killing cancer cells and compares to other checkpoint antibodies in development which target only the effector T cell pathway.
Rights to the development and commercialisation of IMP701 were licensed to CoStim Pharmaceuticals in 2012, which was subsequently acquired by Novartis in 2014.
At mid-morning, shares in Immutep were up 24.14% to $0.18.