Immatics has struck a deal to test its autologous cell therapy in combination with Roche’s checkpoint inhibitor Tecentriq. The clinical collaboration clears Immatics to test whether Roche’s antibody boosts the efficacy of its IMA101 in solid tumors.
IMA101 consists of cytotoxic T lymphocytes selected to recognize up to four targets expressed by the patient’s tumor. By expanding the cells and readministering them back into the patient, Immatics thinks it can create treatments that overcome the relapse and target specificity problems that have stopped adoptive cellular therapies from gaining traction in solid tumors to date.
“Our innovative ACTolog process allows us to utilize a patient’s own T-cells to generate a targeted approach for treating solid tumors with increased safety and efficacy potential,” Immatics CMO Stephen Eck said in a statement.
Germany’s Immatics began testing that idea in 2017 when it started enrolling patients with relapsed or refractory solid tumors in a phase 1 trial of IMA101. With early data suggesting the cell therapy is tolerable, Immatics is adding a combination arm to the trial.
Patients in the Tecentriq combination cohort, like their peers in the monotherapy arm, will receive chemotherapy preconditioning followed by an infusion of IMA101. Once three weeks have passed and the combination subjects have undergone hematologic recovery, they will start taking Tecentriq. The subjects will continue to receive a dose of the anti-PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor every three weeks for up to six months after the IMA101 infusion.
The study is mainly focused on assessing the safety, tolerability and persistence of Immatics’ cells, plus the feasibility of the production process. But Immatics is also looking to the trial to generate early evidence that Tecentriq boosts the efficacy of IMA101 by blocking the checkpoints that inhibit anti-tumor immune responses.
The collaboration adds another strand to the long-running relationship between Roche and Immatics. In 2013, Roche paid $17 million and committed to more than $1 billion in contingent payments for the rights to cancer vaccines including IMA942. The research element of the relationship turned up a target that Roche acquired the rights to late in 2017.