NHL is the most common class of lymphomas and includes several cancers originating from white blood cells. The disease can be treated through many different approaches including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, targeted therapeutics, immunotherapy, and stem cell transplants. Although a broad range of tools is available for clinicians, the disease, like many other cancers, is exceptionally difficult to treat once it has reached an advanced stage.
Currently, targeted therapeutics and immunotherapy are some of the most promising approaches to treat NHL.
How IGN002 works
IGN002 is an artificial chemical construct consisting of two parts bound together by a stable chemical link. One part is a monoclonal antibody against CD20, and the other is interferon alpha.
CD20 is a protein which is actively expressed on the surface of cancer cells in NHL and some other blood cancers. Monoclonal anti-CD20 antibodies, such as Rituxan (rituximab), have already been successfully developed and clinically validated as a treatment for NHL and other B-cell lymphomas.
Interferon alpha is a protein well known to researchers for its anti-cancer properties, and which has already been used for more than three decades to treat a variety of cancers, including NHL.
IGN002 combines the two anti-cancer drugs. By specifically targeting CD20-positive cancer cells via its anti-CD20 antibody part, it is 100 times more efficient compared to non-targeted interferon alpha. This also helps to avoid systemic toxicity caused by injections of free interferon alpha. Importantly, the investigational therapy has the potential to be successfully used as a second-line therapy in patients who developed a resistance to Rituxan.
IGN002 in clinical trials
In 2015, a Phase 1 clinical trial (NCT02519270) assessing the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of IGN002 was initiated. This is an open-label, dose-escalating study which involves multiple weekly doses of IGN002 administered into the bloodstream of patients with refractory NHL. The study is currently enrolling participants and is expected to be completed by December 2018.
A Phase 2 study (NCT02847949) is already planned to assess the effect of continued IGN002 therapy in patients who benefit from the Phase 1 study described above.
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