Sengenics Partners with Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute to Enhance Safety of Cancer Immunotherapy Drugs

Sengenics, the functional proteomics company, today announced signing of a collaboration agreement with the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute (ONJCRI) focusing on profiling Immune-related Adverse Events (irAEs) using the patented Sengenics KREX™technology. The study will focus on Melanoma patients undergoing cancer immunotherapy using immune checkpoint inhibitor drugs and will be performed by Dr. Jessica Duarte in the Tumour Immunology Laboratory led by Dr. Andreas Behren.

Cancer immunotherapy has shown massive clinical potential but has been beset with safety concerns. In various clinical trials, up to 90% of patients show some grade of adverse reaction, with more than 30% of patients exhibiting serious grade 3 irAEs. Up to 2% of patients have life-threatening irAEs resulting in death. ONJCRI and Sengenics will leverage the KREX™technology which consists of microarrays of thousands of correctly folded and functionally verified proteins to discover autoantibody biomarkers in patients following administration of immunotherapy drugs. Discoveries based on the KREX™technology will then potentially be applied to stratify patients in terms of those that are at risk of developing high-grade irAEs.

Professor Jonathan Cebon, Medical Director of ONJCRI said, “Patients treated with checkpoint inhibitors often develop inflammatory reaction or irAEs as a result of immune system activation. The Sengenics KREX™ protein array technology has proven to be a very powerful tool for characterising serological responses of immunotherapy patients with exceptional specificity and sensitivity. We found that patients who developed clinically severe irAEs exhibited immune reactivity against a broad panel of autoantigens. The data generated from a small group of patients showed that patients experiencing high-grade irAEs could readily be distinguished on the basis of these autoantibodies. This technology may provide an early means for identifying patients at risk from developing severe irAEs during cancer immunotherapy.”

Speaking on the collaboration, Sengenics’ CSO, Professor Jonathan Blackburn said, “Collaborating with ONJCRI investigators with a 25-year track record of ground-breaking research into successfully integrating cutting-edge cancer science with deep clinical expertise has highlighted the potential of the KREX™ technology as an ideal platform for identifying cancer immunotherapy irAEs monitoring and toxicity prediction. Our ultimate aim is to work closely with ONJCRI to translate existing and future discoveries to improve the safety and efficacy of cancer immunotherapy drugs.”

Sengenics is currently involved in research collaborations encompassing 17 different cancers and has 5 patent applications involving the discovery of multiple autoantibody biomarkers for the early diagnosis, stratification and potential treatment of cancer. This year alone, the company has also started collaborations with high-level international institutions, including 8 of the top 10 global pharmaceutical companies and top tier universities such as Harvard, MIT and Stanford.

About Sengenics

Sengenics is a functional proteomics company that leverages its patented KREX™ technology for production of full-length, correctly folded and functional proteins. KREX™ was invented and patented by Professor Jonathan Blackburn whilst he was a member of the faculty at the University of Cambridge. Jonathan is the CSO of Sengenics.

The key application of KREX™ is the discovery of autoantibody biomarkers for two core medical use cases. Firstly, stratification of patients undergoing treatment with autoimmune or cancer drugs into responders, non-responders and those that may exhibit severe immune-related adverse events. Secondly, identification of autoantibody biomarkers that may be used to diagnose cancer, autoimmune or neurodegenerative conditions years before conventional diagnostic tests.

About Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute

The Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute (ONJCRI) is an independent medical research institute located in Heidelberg, Australia. ONJCRI’s mission is to discover and develop breakthrough therapies for cancers of the breast, bowel, lung, melanoma, prostate, liver, gastrointestinal and brain. Our researchers and clinicians are running more than 200 clinical trials, giving patients access to potential new treatments including immunotherapies and personalised medicine.