BERGEN, Norway--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Leading oncology biopharmaceutical company BerGenBio AS, today released important new preclinical study data on its first-in-class AXL inhibitor, BGB324 in another major disease indication. The study in breast cancer showed that AXL, a key factor in tumor resistance to the emerging class of new immune checkpoint inhibitors is effectively targeted through combination therapy with BGB324. The study data was presented in a poster today at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium 2016.
BGB324 is a highly selective small molecule inhibitor of the AXL receptor tyrosine kinase that is associated with poor overall survival in breast cancer. The new study “BGB324, a selective small molecule inhibitor of AXL tyrosine kinase, enhances immune checkpoint inhibitor efficacy in mammary adenocarcinoma” presented today in the Immunology and Preclinical Immunotherapy poster session, described a unique role for AXL in suppressing the anti-tumor immune response in breast cancer. AXL-targeting with BGB324 enhanced the effect of immune checkpoint blockade in aggressive mammary adenocarcinomas that display limited immunogenicity. The results showed that AXL-associated EMT and expression of immune suppressive cytokines increased in 4T1 tumors in response to immune therapy and correlated with a lack of response. The combination of BGB324 + anti-CTLA-4/anti-PD-1 resulted in durable primary tumor clearance and sustained tumor immunity in animals that rejected 4T1 tumor cell re-challenge. Importantly, the extensive metastasis to the lung, liver and spleen characteristic of this breast cancer model were concomitantly abrogated in the animals responding to the combination treatment. BGB324 enhanced tumor infiltration of effector cytotoxic T lymphocytes and NK cells while decreasing immune suppressive cell types. Notably, BGB324 showed direct effects on human M2 macrophages, reducing secretion of immune suppressive cytokines. Hence, selective inhibition of AXL signaling with BGB324 uniquely targets both tumor intrinsic and microenvironmental immune suppression mechanisms and increases checkpoint inhibitor efficacy.
Richard Godfrey, Chief Executive Officer of BerGenBio, commented:
“We believe this strong new preclinical data again clearly demonstrates the rationale for combining BGB324 with immune checkpoint inhibitors to treat a wide range of aggressive cancers. AXL expression is increased in tumors in response to checkpoint inhibitor treatment and is an important resistance mechanism. Treatment with BGB2324 counters this and promotes the anti-tumor immune response. This supports our intention to combine the clinical-stage selective Axl inhibitor BGB324 with immune checkpoint inhibitors to improve treatment of human breast cancer.”