Thanks to the merger with DCPrime, Swedish immuno-oncology company Immunicum added DCP-001 to its clinical development programme – a cancer relapse vaccine aimed at preventing tumour recurrence. The candidate is currently in the phase II programme in patients with acute myeloid leukaemia, and, this week, the company has announced the publication of a scientific journal article describing the mechanism of action for DCP-001. The data shows that the cancer relapse vaccine provides active immunization and a durable anti-tumour immune response.
Stockholm-based immuno-oncology company Immunicum is using an off-the-shelf cell-based approach to address two major challenges in cancer treatment: hard-to-treat solid tumours and tumour recurrence, or cancer relapse. For this purpose, the company is advancing two novel candidates based on allogeneic dendritic cell biology: ilixadenceland DCP-001.
For the purpose of this article, we will focus on the latter, DCP-001, Immunicum’s cancer relapse vaccine. To learn more about ilixadencel and Immunicum’s overall vision, read here.
DCP-001: addressing tumour recurrence
With blood-borne tumours like lymphoma or leukaemia, where conventional cancer therapies can generally be more effective, another key challenge presents itself: tumour recurrence. This happens when initial treatment is effective at preventing tumour growth and eliminating most cancer cells, but the cells that go undetected end up growing back, leading to another bout with cancer.
This is where Immunicum’s new cancer relapse vaccine candidate DCP-001 could make a significant impact. DCP-001 was inherited after the merger with Dutch cell therapy company DCPrime in late 2020. The candidate is currently being evaluated in an ongoing phase II. The trial, called ADVANCE II, includes patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) who are in complete remission but have persistent measurable residual disease (MRD), thus being at high risk for tumour recurrence.
Initial data on the ADVANCE II study showed that treatment with DCP-001 is safe, well-tolerated and with promising early signs of efficacy on converting patients to an MRD-negative status. Existing data also show how intradermal vaccination with DCP-001 leads to systemic immune responses against tumour antigens.
Mechanism of action data published
This week, Immunicum continued to provide evidence in favour of its cancer relapse candidate by publishing mechanism of action data for DCP-001 in the peer-reviewed journal Cells. The data comes from a study conducted in collaboration with leading immunology researchers at the Amsterdam University Medical Center (AUMC) in the Netherlands, and Northeastern University in Boston, USA.
The paper explains how DCP-001 interacts with the patient’s immune system, particularly the patient’s own dendritic cells, which play an essential role in presenting antigens to the killer T-cells of the immune system. With the intradermal injection of DCP-001, the patients’ own dendritic cells are able to prime tumour-specific T-cells, which will attack the tumour. This mechanism is supportive of the idea that DCP-001 can act as an off-the-shelf product that activates the patient’s own immune system and that it can be used across a broad range of patients.
Furthermore, the fact that DCP-001 is administered intradermally supports how easily it can be given to patients, as well as its solid safety profile not requiring intravenous administration and harsh prior treatment like lymphodepletion associated with other cell-based products.
Overall, the data supports the promising characteristics of DCP-001 as a cancer relapse vaccine providing active immunization and durable anti-tumour immune response aiming to reduce tumour recurrence.
CSO and CMO comment on the publication
CSO Alex Karlsson-Parra talked about the importance of this publication in a recent press release:
»This publication provides a detailed overview of DCP-001’s mode of action and identifies pathways which could serve as the basis to develop potential novel combination therapies such as blocking of the CD47-SIRPα immune checkpoint pathway. The publication also strengthens our scientific leadership in the field of allogeneic dendritic cell biology. We are grateful for the collaboration with our academic partners and will continue to leverage our combined expertise to build a pipeline of promising, off-the-shelf cell-based immunotherapies.«
CMO at Immunicum Jeroen Rovers was also positive about the published data:
»The study demonstrating activation of the patient’s own antigen-presenting cells by DCP-001 is in line with the observations in our clinical trials to date. We continue to observe DCP-001’s potential to induce immune responses to a broad range of tumour-associated antigens in the ADVANCE II Phase II clinical study in patients with acute myeloid leukaemia. We are looking forward to presenting the clinical follow-up data that will now for the first time cover the full cohort of the ADVANCE II study at the Annual American Society of Hematology (ASH) Meeting next month.«
The full publication can be accessed through the current online version of Cells as part of the Special Issue Allogeneic Cell Cancer Immunotherapies.The content of BioStock’s news and analyses is independent but the work of BioStock is to a certain degree financed by life science companies. The above article concerns a company from which BioStock has received financing.