Massachusetts-based cancer immunotherapy company Jounce Therapeutics (NASDAQ: JNCE) has announced preclinical data that could identify cancer patients more likely to benefit from treatment with JTX-8064, a monoclonal antibody that targets the immunosuppressive protein LILRB2 (ILT4) on the surface of tumor-associated macrophages to promote the anti-cancer response of the immune system.
The data, presented by Jounce as a poster at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, suggested that the LILRB2 inhibitor could be useful for rescuing immune responsiveness in patients with cancers resistant to PD-1 immune checkpoint monotherapy and also identified biomarkers that could predict pharmacodynamic responsiveness to JTX-8064, which would be useful during the selection and treatment of patients in future clinical trials.
Jounce’s Chief Medical Officer Elizabeth Trehu, MD, stated, “The JTX-8064 poster at SITC showcases the strength of our Translational Science Platform for identification of targets and potential predictive and PD biomarkers to inform indication selection in our first clinical trial. The mechanism of action of JTX-8064 coupled with this histoculture data suggests the potential to address PD1 inhibitor resistant tumors.”
“The data presented at SITC supports the exploration of potential predictive biomarkers to identify patients more likely to benefit from JTX-8064 alone or in combination with a PD-1 inhibitor. We will be including retrospective assessment of potential predictive biomarkers in the first in human clinical trial, for which we expect to commence enrollment by the end of the year,” Dr. Trehu continued.
JTX-8064 was previously developed in partnership with Celgene, a licensing agreement that was terminated earlier this year following the acquisition of Celgene by Bristol-Myers Squibb. At the time, President and CEO of Jounce Therapeutics Richard Murray, PhD, stated, “We are thrilled to regain the rights to JTX-8064 and we view this as a significant opportunity for Jounce. Though we highly valued our longstanding partnership with Celgene, now a Bristol Myers Squibb company, having an additional wholly-owned program enables us to further our mission to discover new immunotherapies from a variety of important immune cell types, and develop them for patients who are not well served by today’s therapies.”
The JTX-8064 poster presentation comes on the heels of Jounce’s exclusive licensing agreement with Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD), which was announced in early September of 2020 and centered around monoclonal antibody inhibitor JTX-1811, which targets the chemokine receptor CCR8 to selectively eliminate immunosuppressive tumor-infiltrating T regulatory (TITR) cells.
Richard Murray, PhD, stated, “Gilead’s investment in Jounce and, specifically, JTX-1811 reinforces the value of our Translational Science Platform and differentiated and sustainable approach to novel immuno-oncology programs, focused on patients with cancer who have yet to benefit from immunotherapy. We look forward to seeing JTX-1811 progress to the clinic.”
“Our mission to deliver the right immunotherapy to the right patient population for meaningful and long-lasting benefit remains at the core of our discovery and clinical development work. Our JTX-1811 program is a prime example of these efforts,” Dr. Murray continued. JTX-1811 is anticipated to progress to the stage of IND filing in the first half of 2021.
In addition to undisclosed development programs, Jounce’s pipeline includes anti-ICOS antibody Vopratelimab, PD-1 inhibitor JTX-4014, LILRB2 inhibitor JTX-8064, and anti-CCR8 antibody JTX-1811. JTX-1811 is currently the only therapeutic under joint development, as the other agents are wholly owned by Jounce.