Cancer Research UK, Cancer Research Technology (CRT) and Amgen have reached an agreement to take forward Amgen’s experimental immunotherapy treatment, AMG319, into its first trial involving patients with solid tumours, following a successful phase one trial of this drug in leukaemia and lymphoma patients.
“Treatments that train the immune system to recognise and kill cancer cells are showing huge promise, so we look forward to seeing whether this drug could echo those results.” – Dr Nigel Blackburn
The collaboration forms part of Cancer Research UK’s Clinical Development Partnership (CDP) scheme, a joint initiative between Cancer Research UK’s Centre For Drug Development (CDD) and CRT, to develop promising anti-cancer agents for which pharmaceutical companies do not have the resource to progress through early phase clinical trials.
AMG319 targets an important protein called P13 kinase delta to disable the ‘cloaking device’ that tumours use to evade detection by the immune system.
Studies in mice with solid tumours, part-funded by Cancer Research UK, have shown the ability of this class of drug to mount a response against cancer cells by independently stimulating the immune system but this is the first time it has been trialled in patients with solid tumours.
Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development will manage and sponsor the study through the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) network, with the aim of evaluating the safety and biological effect of AMG319 in patients with head and neck cancer.
Dr Jeremy Haigh, Chief Operating Officer for Amgen’s European R&D Organisation, said: “We fully recognise the value of working with Cancer Research UK in this project. Its distinctive expertise and resources will make a big contribution to our deeper understanding of this area of cancer treatment and wider understanding of AMG319. Cancer Research UK brings more than a century of experience in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.”
Dr Nigel Blackburn, Cancer Research UK’s Director of Drug Development, said: “We’re pleased that this collaboration will allow patients with a wider variety of cancers to access this promising new immunotherapy treatment, which was originally developed for blood cancer patients. Treatments that train the immune system to recognise and kill cancer cells are showing huge promise, so we look forward to seeing whether this drug could echo those results.”
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