Pharma Focus Asia

Ascentage Pharma Announces Strategic Collaboration with Genor Biopharma

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Ascentage Pharma, a global clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing apoptosis-targeted therapies for cancers and other diseases, today announced that it has entered into a strategic collaboration with Genor Biopharma Co. Ltd. ("Genor"). As part of the agreement, the companies will explore the synergies of Ascentage's MDM2-p53 inhibitor, APG-115, and Genor's anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody, genolimzumab (GB226), in preclinical and clinical studies in both solid tumors and hematologic malignancies.

MDM2 inhibits the function of p53 through direct protein-protein interaction (PPI) by binding to p53's N-terminus, preventing p53 from binding to DNA and promoting the degradation of p53. Mutations that result in gene amplification or overexpression of MDM2 can inhibit the normal functioning of p53, leading to tumor development and poor response to current cancer therapies. Recent studies show that MDM2 amplifications have been implicated in hyper-progression in patients receiving PD-1/PD-L1 blockade immuno-oncology therapy, supporting the rationale of MDM2-p53 as an attractive pathway in immune modulation and a potential combination treatment with immuno-oncology therapeutics.

"We are looking forward to working closely with Genor's clinical team to evaluate the potential benefits of combining APG-115, our novel MDM2-p53 specific inhibitor, with the anti-PD-1 mAb, genolimzumab, which has demonstrated promising anti-cancer results in preclinical studies," said Dajun Yang M.D., Ph.D., Chairman and CEO of Ascentage. "We are encouraged by the potential synergistic effects of APG-115 and PD-1 inhibition for treating a wide range of cancers."

Commented Dr. Joe Zhou, CEO of Genor: "Combination strategies of anti-tumor agents with immune checkpoint blockade are leading the trend of cancer therapy. We are actively pursuing the clinical innovation of genolimzumab and we expect that the innovative combination of genolizumab and APG-115, could represent an ideal clinical strategy in the treatment of various malignancies."

APG-115 is a novel, orally bioavailable, highly selective small molecule MDM2 antagonist currently being investigated in Phase 1 clinical trials in China and the United States in patients with advanced solid tumors or lymphoma.

Genolimzumab (GB226) is an investigational, humanized mAb targeting PD-1 on immune cells and is currently in Phase 2 clinical trials for multiple tumor indications in China.

In Ascentage's preclinical studies, the synergistic activity of APG-115 in combination with an anti-PD-1 mAb was observed in tumor models. The mechanisms underlying the synergy include an increase in T cell activation and cytokine release by T cells in response to APG-115 treatment, a substantial increase in tumor infiltrating cytotoxic CD8+ T cells and an increase in tumor infiltrating NK cells and M1 macrophages and a decrease in M2 macrophages.

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