Stimulating the patient's own immune response
At the start of the project in 2003, Innate Pharma had already identified a new generation of protein molecules able to stimulate NK cells through their specific receptors, unaffected by the activity of cancerous or infected cells which would normally suppress an immune response. On this basis, Innate Pharma and Novo Nordisk set out to discover candidate therapeutic molecules suitable for administration to humans.
A few suitable proteins were selected and taken through initial drug characterisation. The most promising candidate was identified and Novo Nordisk then supported the regulatory evaluation, pre-clinical and Phase I clinical trials for safety and dose testing. By the end of the EUREKA sponsorship (at the end of 2006), the Danish company had produced the drug in a form that could be administered to patients for safety and efficacy evaluation in Phase I and II trials. Innate Pharma is now continuing the trials toward market authorisation; anticipated to be within 6 years.
Fast and promising development
The identification of the new potential drug was very fast. "We did not need to look at many alternative candidates," says Nicolai Wagtmann, Vice President at Novo Nordisk, who led the project through the discovery phase. "This was not a traditional massive drug screen, but quite the opposite. We started from an understanding of the disease and the biological mechanism effective in transplantation, the precise molecule in the body that we wanted to modify, and a clear idea of how that had to be done."
As well as testing the potential new drug as a treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia, it is being examined for activity against the chronic form of the disease and it may also have applications in treatment of other forms of cancer, e.g. lymphoma and melanoma. Nicolai Wagtmann comments: "I
|Contact: Francois Romagn|