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Roche, NeoImmuneTech Collaborate on NSCLC Trial Evaluating NT-17 Plus Tecentriq

NEW YORK – NeoImmuneTech on Wednesday announced that it would work with Roche on a Phase II trial to evaluate its lead drug candidate, NT-17, in combination with atezolizumab (Roche's Tecentriq) as a treatment for patients with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer.

The primary goal of the Phase II NSCLC trial will be to evaluate the safety and anti-tumor efficacy of the NT-17 and atezolizumab combination as a first-line treatment for advanced NSCLC patients with PD-L1-expressing tumors. Atezolizumab is already approved in the US as a first-line treatment for metastatic NSCLC in combination with bevacizumab (Roche's Avastin) and chemotherapy and as a single agent for those who have already progressed on platinum-based chemo.

"NT-I7 has the potential to address multiple immune resistance mechanisms by increasing the number of patients' lymphocytes, expanding T-cell repertoire, facilitating the infiltration of cancer-targeting lymphocytes into tumor microenvironments, and sustaining the anti-cancer immune response via memory development," NeoImmuneTech Chief Medical Officer NgocDiep Le said in a statement. "As a result, adding NT-I7 to atezolizumab may increase the efficacy of single-agent atezolizumab and broaden the patient population who may benefit from the combination treatment."

The latest collaboration follows a previous partnership between NeoImmuneTech and Roche in which they investigated NT-17 and atezolizumab as a treatment for patients with high-risk skin cancers.

NeoImmuneTech's experimental agent NT-17, also called efineptakin alfa, is a long-acting human interleukin-7 designed to promote T-cell development for sustained immune response. In addition to studying the agent in combination with atezolizumab, the company is also exploring NT-17's activity with a variety of immunotherapies and as a single agent.

For example, NeoImmuneTech is investigating NT-17 with Merck's pembrolizumab (Keytruda) for patients with various solid tumors and with Bristol Myers Squibb's nivolumab (Opdivo) for patients with various gastrointestinal cancers. The company is also evaluating NT-17 with the CD19 CAR T-cell therapy tisagenlecleucel (Novartis' Kymriah) for patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma. As a monotherapy, NeoImmuneTech is evaluating NT-17 in glioblastoma patients.