Humanigen (OTCMKTS:HGEN) this week announced favourable data from a new study evaluating lenzilumab, its flagship therapy, which improves the effectiveness of CAR-T, a new approach to cancer therapy involving altered T cells.
Lenzilumab, the key drug candidate for the Burlingame, California, company is a recombinant monoclonal antibody that neutralizes a substance that promotes growth of white blood cells but is also tied to inflammations that can occur during CAR-T therapies and lead to side effects.
The results of the new study suggest that the use of lenzilumab in combination with CAR-T therapy for the treatment of lymphoblastic leukemia triggered improved anti-tumor activity and a marked improvement in the control of the leukemia sustained for at least 35 days post CART19 infusion compared to CART19 plus a control.
The improvement in overall survival rates also came with so-called GM-CSF neutralization, which suggests this factor plays a role in improving CART 19 therapy.
In a statement, Dr. Cameron Durrant, CEO of Humanigen, said: “These results suggest that GM-CSF neutralization would improve the efficacy and toxicity profile of current CAR-T therapies and opens the possibility for other combinations with agents that might further improve efficacy but would be too toxic if used in the absence of GM-CSF neutralization.”
The use of lenzilumab also prevented cases of cytokine release syndrome, which can include fever, nausea, headache, rash, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure and trouble breathing. It also triggered a reduction in neuroinflammation as well as an increase in CAR-T cell expansion.
The study was conducted in mice and used human acute lymphoblastic leukemia as well as human-targeted Car-T therapy.
Further phase Ib/II trials of lenzilumab in combination with CART19 therapies are expected to get underway in the coming months.
Humanigen shares closed at $1.35 on Thursday.