Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Agenus Inc., an immuno-oncology company with an extensive pipeline of checkpoint antibodies, cell therapies, adjuvants, and vaccines designed to activate immune response to cancers and infections, announced that it has entered into a clinical collaboration with Nelum Corp. to evaluate the safety and efficacy of zalifrelimab, Agenus’ anti-CTLA-4 antibody, in combination with NLM-001, Nelum’s small molecule hedgehog inhibitor, and chemotherapy for first-line advanced pancreatic cancer.
“This collaboration with Nelum is an exciting next step in our partnership strategy to broaden combinations and indications with our late stage checkpoint antibodies,” said Julie DeSander, Vice President of Business Development and Alliance Management. “Zalifrelimab, our first generation anti-CTLA-4 antibody, shows promising results alone and in combination with balstilimab, our anti-PD-1 antibody, and offers the potential to expand therapeutic benefit in novel combinations.”
Nelum’s NLM-001 is a best-in-class small-molecule hedgehog inhibitor that targets cancer-associated fibroblasts. It synergizes with checkpoint inhibitors by promoting immune cell infiltration into the tumor microenvironment and increases tumor penetration of chemotherapy. NLM-001 is active and well-tolerated in patients with solid tumors, as demonstrated in a Phase I study.
“NLM-001 is designed to disrupt the tumor microenvironment for increased responsiveness to checkpoint inhibition and improved delivery of chemotherapy,” said Evelio Perea, Chairman of the Board of Nelum. “We look forward to evaluating NLM-001 in combination with Agenus’ checkpoint inhibitor zalifrelimab to expand therapeutic options for patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Agenus will supply zalifrelimab to Nelum for the combination study. Nelum will sponsor and be responsible for the conduct of the trial, which is set to begin enrolling in 1H21.