Imugene Limited (ASX:IMU) has revealed that City of Hope researchers Yanghee Woo, MD and Yuman Fong, MD have received a $564,173 US Department of Defense Grant for the oncolytic virotherapy CF33 in gastric cancer.
The CF33 oncolytic virus was developed at City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and treatment centre for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases based in California.
Imugene’s proposal to license CF33 from City of Hope is awaiting satisfaction of customary conditions precedent and shareholder approval at the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to be held on November 18, 2019.
Focus on gastric cancer
The grant focuses on the area of stomach (gastric) cancer (GC), a disease that disproportionately affects US military service members, veterans, and their beneficiaries who have increased exposure to hazardous environmental risk factors, such as H. pylori, Epstein-Barr viral infections, radiation, and tobacco smoking.
Peritoneal carcinomatosis (PC) is a fatal evolution of GC for which there is no effective treatment.
Across military families and the general population, over 60% of all patients with GC will develop peritoneal disease as the most common manifestation of recurrence or metastatic presentation.
The progression of primary GC to PC is facilitated by the unique peritoneal tumour microenvironment, where metastatic peritoneal seeding requires evasion of anti-tumour immunity and maintenance of a highly immunosuppressive microenvironment.
The researchers rationalize that a combined approach using Imugene’s proposed license for novel oncolytic virus CF33 armed to express an anti-PD-L1 antibody as immune modulator could specifically kill cancer cells, convert the immunologically ‘cold’ environment of PC into a ‘hot’ environment, and enhance the overall efficacy of GC therapy.
Expanding CF33 development
Imugene managing director and CEO Leslie Chong said: “Imugene and City of Hope are committed to help improve the length and quality of life for patients with gastric cancer.
“We congratulate Dr Yanghee Woo and Dr Yuman Fong on receiving this sizable grant.
“It is an honour to work with the prestigious and prolific team at City of Hope to expand the development of CF33”.