Naptumomab estafenatox (naptumomab) is a tumor targeting immunotherapy that enhances the ability of the immune system to recognize and kill the tumor. Naptumomab is developed for treatment of solid tumors by Active Biotech’s partner NeoTX.
This is naptumomab
Naptumomab, a Tumor Targeting Superantigen (TTS), is a fusion protein containing the Fab-fragment of an antibody that targets the tumor-associated 5T4 antigen which is expressed in a high number of solid tumors. The antibody part of naptumomab is fused with an engineered bacterial superantigen that activates specific T cells expressing a particular set of T cell receptors. In short, naptumomab functions by activating T cells and re-direct them to 5T4-expressing tumors. This leads to a massive infiltration of effector T cells into the tumor and tumor cell killing.
Cancer is a collective name for a large group of diseases characterized by the growth of abnormal cells, which can invade adjacent parts of the body or spread to other organs. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the world. Lung, prostate, rectal, stomach and liver cancer are the most common types of cancer among men, while breast, rectal, lung, cervical and thyroid cancer are the most common types among women (www.who.int/health-topics/cancer).
Immunotherapy is one of the major breakthroughs of recent years in cancer therapy, which is reflected in the checkpoint inhibitors Keytruda, Opdivo, Imfinzi and Tecentriq achieving combined global sales of USD 22 billion in 2019 (Global Newswire February 2020). The strong sales development for checkpoint inhibitors is expected to continue and sales are forecast at USD 40 billion in 2025 (Global Newswire February 2020).
Treatment of solid tumors generally combines several types of therapy, which traditionally may include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Immunotherapy has been of decisive importance for cancer care in recent years and the immuno-oncology market has demonstrated strong growth. Therapies aimed at targeting immune suppression are dominated by biological drugs classified as checkpoint inhibitors. Several new checkpoint inhibitors have been approved for various types of solid tumors.
Naptumomab in solid tumors
Naptumomab increases the immune system’s ability to recognize and attack the tumor and preclinical data from various experimental models show synergistic anti-tumor effects and prolonged overall survival when naptumomab is combined with checkpoint inhibitors.
Checkpoint inhibitors are a group of cancer drugs, which function by unleashing the immune system to attack the tumor. Despite the successes over recent years with these immunotherapies in the treatment of solid tumors, it remains a challenge for the immune system to recognize tumor cells and there is a need to optimize the therapeutic effect of checkpoint inhibitors.
Ongoing clinical development
Two studies are currently in progress:
- a phase Ib / II study with naptumomab in combination with durvalumab, a PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor and
- a Phase II study in combination with docetaxel in patients with non-small cell lung cancer.
Previous clinical experience with naptumomab
Safety and tolerability of naptumomab as monotherapy and in combination with standard treatment have been established in clinical studies that include more than 300 patients.
Clinical development of naptumomab includes phase I studies in patients suffering from advanced non-small cell lung cancer, renal cell cancer and pancreatic cancer and a phase II/III study in combination with interferon alpha in patients with renal cell cancer.
Combining checkpoint inhibitors with the unique mode of action of naptumomab could be a useful strategy to treat multiple types of cancers, not responding to checkpoint inhibitors alone.