Over the past decade, harnessing the power of a patient’s own immune system for the treatment of cancer has been a major medical breakthrough. By using drugs to block inhibitory signals on immune cells, these medicines help “release the brakes” allowing them to kill cancer cells. Given the tremendous success of this approach, our lab has worked to identify another class of drugs that help “wake up” the immune system to help it fight off cancer. We have performed extensive studies on a protein called CD40, which is naturally used by the immune system to fight off infections. By activating CD40, cells of the immune system are better able to recognize and kill cancer cells. We modified a class of drugs, called antibodies, to help stimulate CD40 on immune cells. By doing this, we generated a drug which was twenty-five times more potent than the currently available form. This enhancement led to better immune system activation and treatment of cancer. We are now aiming to test this improved immune therapy in patients with cancer, hoping to provide another class of drugs that help the immune system attack and kill cancer cells.
Location: The Rockefeller University - New York
Proposal: Advancing Fc-optimized anti-CD40 antibody into phase I clinical trial