After failing its lead program and reshuffling its management, Innate Pharma has Phase I results suggesting its colorectal cancer treatment could be effective where checkpoint inhibitors failed.
French biotech Innate Pharma has obtained promising Phase I data for its monoclonal antibody monalizumab in treating colorectal cancer. Used with their partner AstraZeneca’s checkpoint inhibitor Imfinzi (durvalumab), monalizumab could be effective in patients who have not responded to PD-1/L1 blockade with checkpoint inhibitors.
Innate’s Phase I study tested the antibody combination in a total of 55 patients. Of the 37 evaluable patients, the tumor size was reduced in three patients, while eleven patients showed stable disease responses. The data also showed manageable toxicity. Nonetheless, the results were observed in a minority of the patients.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and the second in women, affecting 1.36 million patients worldwide each year. The disease is particularly difficult to treat because it can progress even after patients receive first or second-line chemotherapy.
According to Innate, the first studies with PD-1 or PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors used on their own showed little to no activity in patients with colorectal cancer. This is somewhat surprising, given the impressive effects the first checkpoint inhibitor, Keytruda, had on metastatic melanoma patients who did not respond to standard treatment.
The first-in-class antibody targets an inhibitory immune checkpoint receptor on tumor-targeting white blood cells, which protects the white blood cells from being attacked by cancer cells. The treatment could support anti-tumor immune responses and, according to Innate, may help checkpoint inhibitors work better in colorectal cancer when they are not effective on their own.
Last year, Innate failed to meet the primary endpoint of a Phase II study for its checkpoint inibitor lirilumab in treating acute myeloid leukemia. Additionally, in late 2016, the company reshuffled its management board. Perhaps the Phase I results could help innate move forward from these challenges.
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