A collaboration between Hummingbird Bioscience and MD Anderson will serve to investigate and evaluate Hummingbird’s HMBD-002 VISTA antagonist antibody.
Hummingbird Bioscience, an innovative clinical-stage biotech company focused on developing precision therapies against hard-to-drug targets to produce major improvements in treatment outcomes, and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has announced the launch of a multi-year strategic research collaboration to investigate and evaluate HMBD-002, Hummingbird’s VISTA antagonist antibody.
Under the agreement, MD Anderson and Hummingbird will collaborate on the design and execution of clinical and translational research studies to better understand how HMBD-002 modulates the anti-tumour immune response, both as a monotherapy and in combination with other checkpoint inhibitors. Working with MD Anderson’s immunotherapy platform and its experts in comprehensive immunoprofiling, the teams will seek to identify biomarkers that may be used to predict clinical outcomes and adverse events.
“We are excited to be collaborating with MD Anderson to advance the clinical research of our novel immunotherapies,” said Jerome Boyd-Kirkup, Ph.D., co-founder and CSO of Hummingbird Bioscience. “These studies will strengthen our understanding of VISTA and other emerging immuno-oncology targets and help us ensure that novel treatment strategies for challenging cancers get to patients as quickly as possible.”
VISTA, an immune checkpoint protein, is an emerging immunotherapy target for cancer that suppresses the anti-tumour immune response. Studies indicate increased levels of VISTA are associated with the emergence of resistance to current cancer immunotherapies. HMBD-002 is designed to inhibit VISTA, removing the suppression of the immune system and allowing it to mount an anti-tumour response.
“Targeting VISTA is an exciting area of immunotherapy research with the potential to have an impact on a variety of cancer types,” said Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology at MD Anderson. “This collaboration aligns our expertise in studying the anti-tumour immune response with Hummingbird’s novel therapeutic pipeline. We look forward to working with Hummingbird to advance immunotherapies that we hope will improve care for our patients.”
Sharma and James Allison, Ph.D., regental chair of Immunology, are co-leaders of MD Anderson’s immunotherapy platform and will oversee the collaboration. Jordi Rodon, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics and Genomic Medicine, will lead the clinical study of HMBD-002 at MD Anderson.
Drs. Sharma and Allison receive compensation as consultants to Hummingbird, and Dr. Sharma holds equity in the company. These financial relationships have been disclosed to MD Anderson in accordance with its COI Policy.
HMBD-002 represents a unique first-in-class anti-VISTA neutralising antibody, and the only IgG4 isotype anti-VISTA antibody currently in development. It was engineered to bind to VISTA at a specific site that was predicted to be essential for ligand-binding and function, thus inhibiting VISTA and neutralising its immunosuppressive activity without depleting VISTA expressing cells that play many important roles in the immune system.
Pre-clinical models have shown that HMBD-002 as a monotherapy inhibits tumour growth and significantly prolongs progression-free survival, with no observed toxicity. It has also shown synergy when used in combination with anti-PD-1 therapy.
HMBD-002 is being developed for multiple cancers that have strong evidence of VISTA mediated suppression both as a monotherapy and in combination with PD-1 inhibitor.
Hummingbird’s first-in-class anti-VISTA therapeutic antibody advanced to clinical trials with a US$13.1 million product development grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT). [APBN]
Source: Hummingbird Bioscience