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Immune Control Protein Discovered by Compugen Shows Potential for Developing New Cancer Immunotherapy Drugs

New preclinical results for CGEN-15029 were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer

Compugen employees on the eve of the IPO in 2012
Compugen employees on the eve of the IPO in 2012

Compugen, a drug discovery company, presented new data last Friday for CGEN-15029, which is in preclinical development. The data indicate the potential for the development of new immunotherapy treatments for solid cancerous tumors, including the potential for combined treatments with existing immunotherapies that act on control proteins of the immune system. CGEN-15029 is the name given by Compugen to a protein called PVRIG, a new control protein of the immune system discovered by the company using computational methods. The company plans to submit an IND in 2017 for COM701, the company's lead therapeutic antibody against PVRIG.

The lecture, presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Immunotherapy of Cancer by Dr. John Hunter, director of the US subsidiary and VP of antibody research and development at Compugen, included details about the discovery of the PVRIG protein by Compugen and the expression method his in the context of cancer. The data show that PVRIG is expressed in immune system cells that infiltrate solid tumors, in particular cells with strong anti-cancer activity, such as certain types of T cells and natural killer cells. The lecture also reported on the identification of the protein that binds PVRIG, known as PVRL2, and the anti-cancer activity of antibodies that block the connection between PVRIG and PVRL2 developed by the company, both in cell cultures and in animal models. The relationship between PVRIG and PVRL2 is of particular medical interest because it places PVRIG in the biological axis of another immune control protein, called TIGIT, which is of increasing interest in the field of immuno-oncology.

The sum of the data presented at the conference convincingly indicates that PVRIG, which was discovered through the company's computational infrastructure as a new control protein of the immune system, indeed represents a new opportunity to develop cancer immunotherapies, including the possibility of combined treatments with existing immunotherapies.

In June 2016, the company selected COM701, an antibody that blocks PVRIG, as the therapeutic antibody that will be used to develop the potential drug. COM701, which is currently in preclinical development by the company, activates T cells in a way that matches the mechanism of action needed to produce an anti-cancer immune response.

Dr. Anat Cohen-Daig, CEO and President of Compugen, explained, "While blocking the biological pathways of CTLA4 and PD1 by antibodies has become an effective form of treatment for certain types of cancer, most patients do not achieve long-term remission, so approaches are needed News, such as the detection of new control proteins of the immune system that are related to other biological pathways and provide new mechanisms for activating the immune response against the cancer tumor. Using our unique computational infrastructure to identify new immune regulatory proteins allowed us to identify PVRIG as well as other novel regulatory proteins in our pipeline."

Dr. Cohen-Deig continued, “We are very pleased to see the rapid growth in the amount of preclinical data demonstrating the potential of COM701, an antibody against PVRIG, as a novel cancer immunotherapy. These results emphasize once again the power and uniqueness of our computational approach - from computational identification of new therapeutic targets to validation. This ability, combined with our research and development infrastructure, now allows us to advance several programs of new proteins in the field of immuno-oncology with potentially novel mechanisms of action. These programs provide us with a pipeline of therapeutic targets that are in early stages of development by the company, in addition to two programs that are in development through collaboration with the pharmaceutical company."

PVRIG (called CGEN-15029) is one of the new immune system control proteins from the B7/CD28 family of proteins discovered by the company with the help of its computational infrastructures. CGEN-15029 is an immune system control protein with properties of a receptor that is expressed on immune system cells, which was first identified by computational methods and underwent experimental validation. In June 2016, COM701, an antibody against CGEN-15029, was selected as the lead therapeutic antibody in this development program.

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