Genprex Inc (NASDAQ:GNPX), a clinical-stage gene-therapy company, inked a pact Thursday with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center for a study focusing on its active anti-cancer agent Oncoprex, to be administered with immunotherapies and research into other tumor suppressor genes.
As a part of the sponsored research agreement, Genprex will pay MD Anderson US$2mln to conduct the pre-clinical study.
The study is titled “A novel therapeutic approach for the treatment of cancer using a combination of the multifactorial tumor suppressor gene TUSC2 and immunotherapy.” TUSC2 is the active agent in Genprex’s investigational non-small-cell, lung cancer drug candidate Oncoprex.
As the title suggests, the study is intended to develop a new therapeutic approach for the treatment of cancer using a combination of the tumor suppressor gene TUSC2 and immunotherapy, including the immune checkpoint inhibitors anti-PD1 and/or anti CTLA-4.
The study may identify biomarkers that can predict the response to therapy across different cancers.
"This research program will evaluate the ability of TUSC2 gene therapy to synergistically enhance the effect and clinical utility of anti-PD1 and/or anti-CTLA-4 therapies,” said Genprex CEO Rodney Varner. “Identifying biomarkers that can predict response rates for Oncoprex-immunotherapy combinations may allow us to explore the utility of this treatment regimen in a broader array of cancers.”
Varner noted that while immunotherapies represent an important advance in treating cancer, even in “highly immunogenic tumors,” most patients “do not respond to checkpoint inhibition.”
“Combination therapies targeting multiple anti-cancer pathways represent a promising approach to achieving greater response rates, and may also allow the expanded use of immunotherapies in a larger population of cancer patients who are not currently candidates for these treatments,” said Varner.
Shares in Genprex were down by a penny to US$7.09 Thursday morning.