Targovax Enters Collaboration With Leidos to add Checkpoint Inhibitor Functionality to ONCOS Viruses

Targovax and Leidos will jointly explore the potential of combining their ONCOS and MicrotideTM technology platforms

ONCOS will be used for intra-tumoral delivery of Microtide™ checkpoint inhibitor peptides

OSLO, Norway I June 4, 2020 I Targovax ASA (OSE: TRVX), a clinical stage immuno-oncology company developing oncolytic viruses to target hard-to-treat solid tumors, today announces that it has entered into a collaboration agreement with the Explorations in Global Health (ExGloH) Division of Leidos to evaluate the potential of using ONCOS oncolytic adenoviruses as a vector to encode Microtide™ checkpoint inhibitor peptides.  

Targovax's clinical program is focused on combining ONCOS viruses with checkpoint inhibitors. This combination is promising since checkpoint inhibition complements oncolytic virotherapy by blocking the tumor's main defense mechanism against the anti-tumor immune response generated by the oncolytic virus.

ExGloH has developed a unique, proprietary portfolio of microbially-derived peptides, called MicrotideTM, that act as immune checkpoint inhibitors. The simple structure and small size of Microtide™ peptides make them well-suited for delivery by DNA vectors, and the parties will explore whether this capability can be extended to ONCOS viruses. If successful, this could potentially circumvent the need to combine ONCOS with classical systemically delivered checkpoint inhibitors.

Under the agreement, Leidos and Targovax will investigate the technical feasibility, in vitro and in vivo immune modulatory, and anti-cancer properties of encoding Microtide™ checkpoint peptides in the ONCOS adenovirus backbone. If successful, the combined ONCOS and Microtide™ constructs may serve as a platform where additional functionality can be built in to stimulate multiple complementary anti-tumor mechanisms.

Dr. Erik Digman Wiklund, Chief Business Officer of Targovax, said: "We are continuously looking for new strategies to enhance the immune activation potential and explore novel payloads for our ONCOS viruses. In ExGloH we have found a collaborator with a unique class of checkpoint inhibitors that we believe perfectly complements ONCOS. We are very excited to jointly explore whether the ONCOS and Microtide™ combination can enhance the second generation of ONCOS viruses and serve as a platform for future clinical product candidates to fulfil important medical needs."

SOURCE: Targovax

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