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Targovax and Papyrus Therapeutics enter research collaboration to develop novel ONCOS viruses with receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) inhibitor functionality

  • The parties will explore the feasibility and effect of combining their respective oncolytic virus and receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) inhibitor technologies
  • Targovax retains the right to develop and commercialize novel drug candidates emerging from the pre-clinical collaboration

Oslo, Norway 10 February 2021 – Targovax ASA (OSE: TRVX), a clinical stage immuno-oncology company developing immune activators to target hard-to-treat solid tumors, today announces that it has entered into a research collaboration agreement with Papyrus Therapeutics to assess the potential of combining their respective proprietary technology platforms to develop a first-in-class oncolytic virus concept with RTK inhibitor functionality.  

Papyrus Therapeutics, Inc. (West Chester, PA, USA) is an emerging biopharma company developing novel tumor suppressor therapies. Papyrus´s lead therapeutic is a modified, recombinant version of Opioid Binding Protein/Cell Adhesion Molecule-like (OPCML), which is an extra-cellular, upstream regulator of RTK activity. OPCML is a broadly acting tumor suppressor that is epigenetically silenced in many cancers, leading to tumor invasion and metastasis through deregulation of apoptosis, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cellular migration. Classic RTK inhibition using small molecules has proven highly effective in many cancers, but treatment resistance remains a significant challenge. Delivery of OPCML can overcome this challenge by reconstituting normal RTK signaling in the tumor.

Under the agreement, Targovax and Papyrus will run a joint pre-clinical research project to evaluate the technical feasibility and anti-cancer activity of combining the ONCOS oncolytic virus platform and recombinant OPCML technology. Targovax retains an exclusive option to develop and commercialize novel ONCOS-OPCML drug candidates emerging from the pre-clinical research collaboration.

Dr. Paul Blake, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Papyrus Therapeutics said: “We are excited by the potential of including our modified, recombinant OPCML with the clinically validated ONCOS platform, thereby extending the scope of our tumor suppression strategy to adenoviral gene therapy. Targovax has demonstrated the broad immunomodulatory power of their oncolytic immunotherapy in a variety of solid tumors, and we believe this serves as an ideal environment to reconstitute the extra-cellular tumor suppressor capabilities of OPCML”.

Dr. Victor Levitsky, Chief Scientific Officer of Targovax added: “The tumor deploys two core strategies to avoid detection by the immune system and to enable it to grow and spread; local immunosuppression and inhibition of biochemical processes that prevent cellular migration and invasion into surrounding healthy tissue. By combining ONCOS and OPCML we can deal with both of these issues in parallel, and thereby establish a first-in-class immunotherapy concept that couples the power of oncolytic adenoviruses with the clinically validated principle of RTK inhibition.”

For further information, please contact:
Renate Birkeli, Investor Relations
Phone: +47 922 61 624

Media enquires:
Andreas Tinglum – Corporate Communications (Norway)
Phone: +47 9300 1773

IR enquires:
Kim Sutton Golodetz – LHA Investor Relations (US)
Phone: +1 212-838-3777
About Targovax

Activating the patient’s immune system to fight cancer

Targovax (OSE:TRVX) is a clinical stage immuno-oncology company developing immune activators to target hard-to-treat solid tumors. Targovax aims to unlock greater clinical benefits in cancer patients by deploying multifunctional platforms to target key immune regulators and oncogenic drivers. Targovax’s focus is to “activate the patient’s immune system to fight cancer”, thus extending and transforming the lives of cancer patients with targeted therapeutic cancer immunotherapies. The Group’s pipeline aims at different cancer indications, including melanoma, mesothelioma and colorectal cancer. The products are designed to harness the patient’s own immune system to fight the cancer, whilst also delivering a favorable safety and tolerability profile. Further, the products are well positioned for combinations with other treatment approaches, including other immunotherapies, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.Targovax’s lead product candidate, ONCOS-102, is a genetically modified oncolytic adenovirus, which has been engineered to selectively infect cancer cells and activate the immune system to fight the cancer. ONCOS-102 is currently being tested in mesothelioma, melanoma and colorectal cancer and has already shown promising clinical results both as monotherapy and in combination with chemotherapy, and a checkpoint inhibitor.

About Papyrus Therapeutics, Inc. Papyrus is a privately held emerging pre-clinical stage biopharma company developing a portfolio of cancer therapeutics focused on a novel target, Opioid Binding Protein / Cell Adhesion Molecule-like (OPCML), in areas of high unmet medical need. OPCML is a tumor suppressor gene that is silenced epigenetically in many cancers and this allows disease progression through deregulation of apoptosis, epithelial-to mesenchymal transition (EMT), cell adhesion, migration, invasion and metastasis. The company is the global leader in the understanding and development of therapeutics based on recombinant OPCML, including biotherapeutics and cell technologies. Papyrus’ deep expertise and understanding of this target and pathways is based on many years of research and multiple publications by the company’s Co-Founder and Scientific Advisor Professor Hani Gabra. Papyrus is based in Pennsylvania, USA and in Oxford, UK.

Source: Targovax