BMS and Apexigen Link on Lung Cancer

  • (c) Mark Evans/Getty Images(c) Mark Evans/Getty Images

US pharmaceutical companies Bristol-Myers Squibb and Apexigen are collaborating to test a combination of their respective drugs to treat patients with advanced solid tumors.

Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo will be trialled with Apexigen’s compound APX005M, which is a novel, humanized investigational monoclonal antibody that is designed to reverse the systemic immune suppression that typically affects cancer patients. Opdivo is designed to overcome PD-1 pathway related immune suppression and is currently approved in 57 countries, including the US and Japan, as well as in the EU.

The proposed collaboration will evaluate the safety, tolerability and preliminary efficacy of the combined therapy in second-line metastatic non-small cell lung cancer patients who have failed prior chemotherapy and in metastatic melanoma patients who have failed prior immuno-oncology therapy.

The companies will explore the potential of combining the two agents with the goal of effectively activating antigen-presenting cells (APC) in the tumor microenvironment to drive a more productive and sustained immune response.

“Targeting the tumor microenvironment through activation of antigen-presenting cells is a novel approach that we are excited to add to our immuno-oncology strategy as we continue to advance research for cancers with limited treatment options,” said Fouad Namouni, head of the oncology development at Bristol-Myers Squibb.

According to Apexigen’s president and CEO, Xiaodong Yang, APX005M has already shown immune stimulation in patients with solid tumors in a Phase 1 study. The compound is targeted to activate CD40, a co-stimulatory receptor that is essential for activating both innate and adaptive immune systems.

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