The French company OSE Immunotherapeutics has signed a partnership to use artificial intelligence to develop treatments for tumors that don’t respond to checkpoint inhibitor drugs.
In the last five years, checkpoint inhibitor drugs have become a potentially life-saving option for people that don’t respond to traditional cancer treatments. These antibody drugs have shown promise in preventing cancer cells from evading the immune system. Like with many cancer therapies, though, some tumors are innately resistant to checkpoint inhibitors, and many that aren’t eventually become resistant over time.
OSE Immunotherapeutics has formed a collaboration with the Lyon-based research center Léon Bérard Center to find a way to increase the number of patients that respond to checkpoint inhibitors. The two collaborators will take tumor samples from patients that are resistant to checkpoint inhibitor therapies, and analyze the gene expression of the tumor cells. They will then use artificial intelligence to identify which genes and proteins are key to the resistance, and develop drug combinations to target them.
OSE Immunotherapeutics has technology that produces modified antibodies called bispecific fusion proteins, which can act against more than one target at once. The drugs, for example, can function as a checkpoint inhibitor while stimulating other immune cells to attack the tumor at the same time.
The partners did not disclose the specific tumor types that they are focusing on in the collaboration.
Last year, OSE Immunotherapeutics signed a big license and collaboration deal worth up to €1.1B with Boehringer Ingelheim to develop drugs for solid tumors.
While it receives less attention than bacterial resistance to antibiotics, resistance to cancer therapies is a big problem for oncology, since many expensive treatments can become ineffective after a year of treatment. Another company working to beat cancer drug resistance is the Swiss biotech Tolremo, which aims to block the mechanisms that tumors use to build resistance to therapies.
The company also has interests outside of cancer, with a treatment candidate for the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis expected to begin phase II development this year.
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