arGEN-X Expands Preclinical Pipeline with ARGX-115: A Novel Simple Antibody™ for Cancer Immunotherapy

  • ARGX-115 re-activates immunity to cancer
  • First-in-class therapeutic antibody targeting GARP, a novel immune checkpoint
  • First candidate to be licensed under Company’s Innovative Access Program

Breda, the Netherlands/Ghent, Belgium- arGEN-X N.V. (Euronext Brussels: ARGX), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on creating and developing differentiated therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of cancer and severe autoimmune diseases, today announced that it has exercised its option to exclusively license a first-in-class, preclinical therapeutic antibody candidate, now ARGX-115, to target GARP, a novel immune checkpoint with potential in cancer immunotherapy. ARGX-115 was discovered under arGEN-X’ Innovative Access Program with de Duve Institute / Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) / WELBIO (BE).

Cancer immunotherapy continues to be one of the most exciting approaches to treating cancer, but also one that is rapidly evolving. Application of immune checkpoint inhibitors have come more into focus, specifically in combination regimens in order to achieve the best possible patient outcomes. Preclinical results illustrate the exciting potential of ARGX-115 as a first-in-class antibody targeting GARP, a novel immune checkpoint and a target we believe to play a key role in the ability of tumors to escape the patient’s immune system, commented Tim Van Hauwermeiren, CEO of arGEN-X. Combining the expertise of the de Duve Institute/UCL/WELBIO in cancer immunology with arGEN-X’s proprietary SIMPLE AntibodyTM platform and antibody know-how creates a powerful partnership that is ideally positioned to lead the discovery of differentiated antibodies in immune oncology. We expect to initiate further preclinical studies of ARGX-115 in the near-term to illustrate its potential as future cancer immunotherapy.

In cancer patients, tumors grow as they escape from immune surveillance. Tumors can suppress the immune system by co-opting different immunosuppressive cells such as regulatory T-cells (Tregs), which exert contact-dependent inhibition of immune cells through the production of active TGF-β. On Treg cell surface, the membrane protein GARP regulates the production of active TGF-β. Preclinical studies completed at de Duve Institute/UCL/WELBIO show ARGX-115 can inhibit the immunosuppressive activity of human Tregs by binding to GARP-inactive TGF-β complex and preventing release of active TGF-β.

ARGX-115 results from a collaboration between arGEN-X and de Duve Institute/UCL/WELBIO, initiated in November 2013, leveraging the SIMPLE AntibodyTM platform and the experience of de Duve Institute/UCL/WELBIO in cancer immunology, in order to create and validate functional leads and druggable targets in oncology. Under the collaboration, arGEN-X has exercised its option to exclusively in-license the GARP program for further development and commercialization as part of arGEN-X’ proprietary product pipeline.

arGEN-X’ Innovative Access Program leverages the proven power of the SIMPLE Antibody™ platform in creating highly differentiated antibodies across multiple therapeutic areas. Through collaboration with academic centers of excellence and emerging biotech companies, arGEN-X will provide access to its antibody discovery technologies and offer technical support and proprietary know-how where needed. Deal structures are designed to be flexible.