Medical biotech company Imugene (ASX: IMU) has revealed that its clinical stage arginine modulator drug candidate has demonstrated “anti-tumour activity in 12 different cancer mouse models of the most prevalent cancers, with significant activity in a melanoma cancer model”.
The results represent a significant milestone for Imugene and pave the way for the company to move onto more comprehensive trials.
As an immune-oncology specialist, Imugene is developing a drug capable of managing the level of arginine in the human body to boost the tumour killing activity of the body’s cancer-fighting cells.
Imugene is confident that the depletion of arginine, a naturally-occurring amino acid, plays a crucial function in shutting the down the human body’s ability to combat tumours.
If Imugene’s arginine-modulation drug is successfully developed and clinically tested, Imugene could develop a product that combats the growing rates of melanomas in Australia.
At present, Australia and New Zealand have the highest melanoma rates in the world. Melanoma is also the third most common cancer with an estimated 14,000 Australians diagnosed with melanoma in 2017.
According to researchers from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 1 in 14 men and 1 in 24 women will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetimes.
Collaborating against skin cancer
Given the surging rates of skin cancer and the potential to develop a commercially-viable product, Imugene expanded its relationship with the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute earlier this year.
At the time, Imugene and Baker Heart submitted a joint National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grant application to investigate developing novel immunotherapy drug candidates for treating melanoma cancer.
Baker is a clinical centre in cardiovascular medicine with a special focus on arteriosclerosis and population-based studies. Independent and internationally recognised, the medical research facility houses 700 scientists focusing on diagnosis, prevention and treatment of various diseases including melanomas.
According to Professor David Kaye, NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, collaborating with Imugene creates “strong potential for improving patient outcomes” via novel therapies such as the treatment of melanomas with Imugene’s arginine drug candidate.
“We are honoured to establish this expanded collaboration with Professor David Kaye’s team and look forward to exploring the potential of a first-in-class immuno-oncology therapy. The collaboration aims to yield important composition of matter intellectual property and with improved anti-tumour activity,” said Leslie Chong, CEO of Imugene.