Vaccinex is developing antibody candidate drugs for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. The lead program is evaluating pepinemab, a monoclonal antibody targeting SEMA4D, for the treatment of Huntington’s disease (HD). In earlier studies, treatment with pepinemab improved metabolism (increased glucose transport, measured by FDG-PET) of affected neurons in HD patients. Huntington’s disease is an inherited deteriorating chronic illness of the brain (killing neurons), characterized by abnormal movements (chorea), with gradual loss of cognitive and neurological functions. At present, there is no cure or effective treatment for HD. SEMA4D (semaphoring-4D) is a an extracellular signaling molecule involved in neuro-inflammation. Vaccinex’s pepinemab has received Fast Track and Orphan Drug designations by FDA.
Fireside Chat Catalysts
In October 2020, Vaccinex expects to release topline results from a 265-patient pivotal clinical trial on the use of pepinemab for the treatment of patients suffering from Huntington’s disease (HD). Endpoints of the study include clinical and behavioral outcomes, as well as measures of brain volume, metabolic activity and inflammation. Based on trial results, Vaccinex plans to seek FDA approval to commercialize pepinemab in the United States. The Company believes that by preventing astrocyte-driven neuro-inflammation, pepinemab might act as a protector of neurons in the brain of HD patients.
Besides HD program, Vaccinex is developing pepinemab in combination with checkpoint inhibitors for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, head and neck, colorectal, melanoma and pancreatic cancer. In cancer patients, pepinemab modifies the tumor microenvironment by reducing the number of inhibitory MDSC (myeloid-derived suppressor cells) and stimulating anti-tumor T CD8 killing lymphocytes (improving penetration of tumor mass), resulting in amplification of the anti-tumoral immune response.
Xenetic Biosciences is a biotechnology company developing XCART™, a personalized, patient-specific CAR-T platform anti-cancer technology engineered to target tumor-specific neoantigens. XCART targets the B-cell receptor (BCR) on the surface of B-cell lymphoma cancer cells, which is unique to each patient. The technology is designed to screen for peptides selectively binding to the BCR on the surface of a patient’s lymphoma cancer cells. The specific peptide is engineered into the binding domain of a “chimeric antigen receptor” creating a CAR-T cell therapy drug which only recognizes cancer cells specific to each lymphoma patient. In addition to its cancer program, Xenetic receives royalty payments from partner Takeda for application of Xenetic’s PolyXen® drug delivery technology for the treatment of coagulation disorders.
Fireside Chat Catalysts
Recently, Xenetic signed collaboration agreements with Scripps Research, one of the leading academic institutions in the world, and Pharmsynthez. Given that Scripps and Pharmsynthez’s scientists are co-inventors of XCART, Xenetic believes the collaborations will be crucial for the successful development of the technology. Xenetic believes XCART will become a preferred cell therapy for the treatment of B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas. XCART could be viewed as the reverse of a typical CAR-T, which utilizes “highly specific antibody domains” to recognize a Tumor Antigen. In contrast, XCART targets BCR, which has similarities to a “highly specific antibody domain”. In the case of XCART, “the antibody” is the “Tumor Antigen” instead of the “Medicine” (Reverse CAR-T). Given that XCART will not recognize BCR of normal B lymphocytes, it could potentially have a superior safety profile relative to a typical CAR-T. Based on these competitive advantages, Xenetic expects to attract a global leader in the industry to help develop the technology.
Rheumatoid Arthritis, Predicting Treatment Efficacy
Navidea Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. is developing high value immuno-diagnostics based on its “Manocept” platform to enhance patient care by improving diagnostic accuracy, clinical decision-making, and targeted treatment. Navidea’s Manocept platform is designed to specifically target the CD206 mannose receptor expressed on activated macrophages. Navidea’s lead product, Tc99m tilmanocept, is based on the Manocept platform and designed to detect macrophage-mediated inflammation in the joints of patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Navidea has the option to develop candidate medicines based on Manocept technology for the treatment of inflammation, cancer and CNS diseases. In the United States, there are 1.3 million RA patients.
Fireside Chat Catalysts
On June 3, 2020, Navidea announced that results from ongoing NAV3-31 Phase IIb clinical trial will be presented at the European League Against Rheumatism (“EULAR”) Virtual Congress 2020. The study is evaluating Tc99m tilmanocept as an imaging diagnostic agent for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by comparing imaging from joints of RA patients to imaging from joints of healthy subjects. The results show detection of macrophage-mediated inflammation in RA joints but not healthy joints. On May 21, 2020, Navidea reported interim results from NAV3-31 Phase IIb clinical trial demonstrating that Tc99m tilmanocept imaging provided early indicator of treatment efficacy in active RA patients. A total of 15 active moderate-to-severe RA patients treated with anti-TNF alpha therapy were included in the interim analysis. In seven out of 8 patients, Tc99m tilmanocept imaging (from baseline to week 5) was predictive of clinical outcome after treatment with anti-TNF treatment at week 12 follow up. After discussing the positive results from Phase IIb study with FDA, Navidea plans to start a Phase III clinical trial in H2/2020. On Fireside Chat, CEO Jed Latkin said Navidea is very close to signing a partnership to complete development and commercialize Tc99m tilmanocept.
Dr. Ordoñez does not own the security mentioned on this note. He has not received any compensation by the Company.
Targeting Neuro-Inflammation in Huntington's Disease
Reverse CAR-T Approach for the Treatment of Cancer