Texas-based clinical-stage gene therapy company Genprex Inc (NASDAQ:GNPX), which is developing a new approach to treating cancer, announced Tuesday that it had extended the terms of two option agreements with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
The amended agreements relate to the use of TUSC2, the active agent in Genprex’s lead anti-cancer agent Oncoprex, in combination with immunotherapies, and the use of biomarkers to predict patient response to TUSC2 therapy.
Each amendment extends the term of the related option agreement to March 13, 2019, in exchange for US$25,000.
“These agreements will provide the opportunity to obtain additional patent protection for our TUSC2 gene therapy platform,” said Rodney Varner, CEO of Genprex.
“With these amended agreements in place, we will continue to advance and expand our clinical development program with Oncoprex for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer and other potential therapeutic targets,” added Varner.
READ: Genprex to enroll patients in study to evaluate anti-cancer agent Oncoprex with FDA-approved Erlotinib
The first amended agreement provides Genprex with an option to exclusively license patent applications and related intellectual property relating to methods of treating cancer by combining TUSC2 with any of the immune checkpoint inhibitors, including but not limited to nivolumab (Opdivo), pembrolizumab (Keytruda), ipilimumab (Yervoy), and anti-KIR antibodies such as lirilumab.
The Austin, Texas-based company said that combination therapies targeting multiple anti-cancer pathways represent a “promising approach” to achieving greater response rates. “The greatest increase in survival was seen with TUSC2 combined with a checkpoint blockade,” the company said in a statement.
Genprex said researchers at MD Anderson have presented data from a preclinical research study in a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research demonstrating that TUSC2 alone or in combination with checkpoint blockade (anti-PD-1 and/or anti-CTLA4) significantly prolonged mouse survival in a non-small cell lung cancer metastasis model, compared to the use of a checkpoint blockade alone.
The second amended agreement provides Genprex with an option to exclusively license an “issued US patent, foreign patent applications, and related intellectual property” relating to methods for predicting a patient’s response to a TUSC2 therapy, and methods for treating a patient previously known to have a favorable response to a TUSC2 therapeutic in conjunction with an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor and/or a protein kinase inhibitor.
Genprex’s platform technologies administer cancer-fighting genes by encapsulating them into nanoscale hollow spheres, or nanovesicles, which are then directed intravenously and taken up by tumor cells where they express proteins that are missing or found in low quantities.
The company says Oncoprex has a “multimodal mechanism of action” through which it interrupts “cell signaling pathways” that cause cancer cells to proliferate. The Oncoprex immunogene therapy also re-establishes pathways for “apoptosis,” or “programmed cell death” in cancer cells. It modulates the immune response against cancer cells and blocks mechanisms that create drug resistance.
Shares of Genprex shot up 9.5% to US$2.66 midday Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Genprex COO Julien Pham, will present at the high-profile HC Wainwright annual Global Investment Conference, in New York on September 6. He is likely to touch on the gene therapy company’s proprietary technology platform, including product candidate, Oncoprex.
Contact Uttara Choudhury at [email protected]
-- Updates with Genprex COO to present at HC Wainwright investor conference, stock quote --