The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), a global voluntary health agency, is committing approximately $6 million to Valor Biotherapeutics, a joint venture of biotechnology companies ImmunGene and Caliber, to co-fund the completion of preclinical development, manufacturing and a phase I clinical trial for a novel fusion protein that may change the poor outcomes faced by many patients with indolent lymphomas who do not respond to standard therapy with rituximab.
Valor's protein, IGN002, is a new class of biotherapeutics produced by fusing antibodies to tumor cell-killing cytokines to create a therapeutic agent with multiple properties in a single, genetically engineered molecule. The fusion molecule directs a targeted interferon alpha mediated cytotoxic effect on lymphoma cells leading to dramatically improved efficacy and safety profiles in preclinical studies. The clinical trial is anticipated to begin in late 2015.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) is the seventh most common cancer in the U.S. yet is a highly diverse disease with many subsets of patients. There are an estimated 530,000 people currently living with NHL or in remission. In 2012, there were approximately 70,000 new cases of NHL diagnosed in the U.S. and about 19,000 NHL patients died in 2012 from their disease, which was unable to be controlled adequately with currently available therapeutic options. Indolent or slowly progressing NHL is estimated to be about 40% of NHL cases in the U.S.
"Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, whether indolent or aggressive, continues to be a disease requiring more effective treatment options," said LLS chief mission officer Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D.