IOME Bio, a French seed-stage biotechnology company focused on addressing tumor resistance to immune checkpoint inhibition, has published its basic research by founders Arlene Sharpe and Dennis Kasper in Natural.
The company says its work reveals unique insights into the importance of the RGMb/PD-L2 pathway in immunotherapy resistance and further reinforces the importance of IOME Bio’s bispecific antibody therapy approach, which targets RGMb (Repulsive Guidance Molecule b).
IOME Bio says the study has shown that the novel pathway involving RGMb and PD-L2 is highly immunosuppressive, which influences the efficacy of current immunotherapies. IOME Bio continues to collaborate with the Sharpe and Kasper laboratories through sponsored research and holds exclusive licenses for the intellectual property derived from their discoveries. Gordon Freeman at the Dana-Faber Cancer Institute is also a key collaborator and contributor.
Although immune checkpoint inhibitors have made a tremendous impact in the treatment of cancer, unfortunately a large proportion of patients either fail to achieve a response or experience relapses. The publication Nature, which stems from research sponsored by IOME Bio, uncovers a previously unknown role of the molecule RGMb in regulating the body’s response to cancer cells.
Strong anti-tumor response
RGMb, primarily known for its role in tolerance, is also found on the surface of cancer-fighting T cells. Until now, its role in regulating T-cell response to cancer immunotherapy is unknown. The researchers demonstrated that the interaction between RGMb and PD-L2 impairs the anti-tumor response. Blocking RGMb or PD-L2 with antibodies combined with anti-PD-1/L1 consistently led to strong anti-tumor responses across several models and was able to overcome resistance to PD-1 or PD-L1 antibodies.
In leveraging this unique proprietary immunosuppression insight, IOME Bio intends to unlock the immuno-oncology efficacy with a first-in-class anti-RGMb-based bispecific antibody designed to address cancer resistance.
“We are pleased with the international recognition of this research led by Arlene Sharpe and Dennis Kasper, and Gordon Freeman,” said Eric Rambeaux, CEO of IOME Bio.
“Thanks to fruitful and ongoing collaboration with the team, and seed funding from Quark Venture and Seventure, IOME Bio has successfully and rapidly developed several bispecific programs around RGMb, which are currently in the candidate selection stage. The company is now in the process of securing series A funding to further develop this program and move it to the clinical stage.”
About immune checkpoint inhibitors
Immune checkpoint inhibitor drugs block checkpoint proteins made by immune system cells, such as T cells, and some cancer cells. Signaling through these checkpoints can prevent T-cells from killing cancer cells, resulting in T-cell exhaustion. When the checkpoints are blocked, T-cells are better able to kill cancer cells. Examples of checkpoints found on T-cells or cancer cells include PD-1/PD-L1 and CTLA-4. Antibodies to these checkpoint proteins have been approved to treat many types of cancer.