Tel Aviv, Israel, June 27, 2012 — Compugen Ltd. (NASDAQ: CGEN) announced today results demonstrating the therapeutic potential of CGEN-15022, a Compugen-discovered B7/CD28-like membrane protein, as an immune checkpoint target for treatment of multiple cancers. The results indicate that CGEN-15022 is expressed in numerous types of epithelial cancers with significant unmet clinical needs, such as liver, colorectal, lung and ovarian cancers. These findings, together with previously disclosed results pointing to its negative costimulatory activity, strongly support CGEN-15022’s potential as a compelling drug target for treatment of these cancers through monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy, an area of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry.
The Company previously announced that CGEN-15001T, the first protein to undergo validation, of nine novel molecules predicted in silico by Compugen to be B7/CD28-like proteins, demonstrated expression in solid cancers and hematological malignancies, such as prostate cancer, melanoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, such as T and B cell lymphomas. The different expression profiles of CGEN-15022 and CGEN-15001T not only provide important differentiating characteristics between the two novel targets, but also offer promising opportunities for utilizing these proteins as mAb targets in order to treat a broad set of key cancer indications with significant unmet medical needs.
Negative costimulatory proteins play critical roles as immune checkpoints, turning down or silencing the active immune system to prevent autoimmunity and to protect tissues from damage during inflammation. Tumor cells “highjack” this process and express these immune checkpoints in order to protect the tumor from destruction by the immune system. Therefore utilizing an antibody to block this function is predicted to remove the immune silencing effect and enable the immune system to attack and destroy the tumor, thus serving as a very promising approach for cancer immunotherapy.
Furthermore, since the extracellular domain of the protein is responsible for the immune silencing effect, a soluble Fc fused protein presenting the extracellular domain of the protein should have therapeutic potential for immune related diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis. To date, Compugen has announced that five out of the first six B7/CD28-like proteins to undergo experimental testing, have demonstrated positive results in well-established disease animal models for various immune related diseases.
Dr. Anat Cohen-Dayag, President and CEO of Compugen, remarked, “We are very proud of the fact that our first market-driven discovery effort using our unique and broadly applicable predictive infrastructure built over the last decade resulted in the prediction of nine separate and distinct B7/CD28-like molecules, such as CGEN-15001T and CGEN 15022. These two novel molecules are now demonstrating significant potential as monoclonal antibody targets for immunotherapy, one of the most promising new approaches for the treatment of various cancers and an approach that has lately been the subject of great enthusiasm. For example, at the recent annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, studies were reported demonstrating great promise for monoclonal antibodies based on this approach as a long-term therapy for cancer, resulting in widespread interest and media coverage.”
Dr. Cohen-Dayag continued, “In addition, the potential value of our B7/CD28-like discoveries is further substantially enhanced by the fact that five soluble proteins based on these molecules have demonstrated positive disease animal model results for various autoimmune diseases and are now under further development in our Pipeline Program.”
About Immune Checkpoints
Immune checkpoints are inhibitory receptors and their ligands, which are crucial for the maintenance of self-tolerance (that is, the prevention of autoimmunity) and for the protection of tissues from damage when the immune system is responding to pathogenic infection. These immune checkpoints, which are “highjacked” by tumors to block the ability of the immune system to destroy the tumor (“immune resistance”), have lately emerged as “game changers” and promising targets for cancer immunotherapy. Therapeutic blockade of immune checkpoints stimulates the patient’s immune system in order to provide durable anti-tumor immunity and tumor destruction. The blockade of immune checkpoints unleashes the potential of the anti-tumor immune response in a fashion that is transforming cancer therapeutics. Such antibodies have lately demonstrated impressive clinical benefit and long-term survival, even for end-stage patients, raising hopes that this novel approach will deliver substantial progress in the fight against cancer.
Compugen is a leading therapeutic product discovery company focused on therapeutic proteins and monoclonal antibodies to address important unmet needs in the fields of immunology and oncology. Unlike traditional high throughput trial and error experimental based drug candidate discovery, Compugen utilizes a broad and continuously growing infrastructure of proprietary scientific understandings and predictive platforms, algorithms, machine learning systems and other computational biology capabilities for the in silico (by computer) prediction and selection of product candidates. Selected product candidates are then advanced in its Pipeline Program to the pre-IND stage. The Company’s business model primarily involves collaborations covering the further development and commercialization of product candidates from its Pipeline Program and various forms of research and discovery agreements, in both cases providing Compugen with potential milestone payments and royalties on product sales or other forms of revenue sharing. In 2012, Compugen established operations in California for the development of oncology and immunology monoclonal antibody therapeutic candidates against Compugen-discovered drug targets. In 2002, Compugen established an affiliate, Evogene Ltd. (www.evogene.com) (TASE: EVGN.TA), to utilize certain of the Company’s in silico predictive discovery capabilities in agricultural biotechnology. For additional information, please visit Compugen’s corporate website at www.cgen.com.
This press release may contain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements include words such as “may”, “expects”, “anticipates”, “believes”, and “intends”, and describe opinions about future events. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements relating to CGEN-15022’s potential as a compelling drug target for treatment of cancers through mAb therapy and that the different expression profiles of CGEN-15022 and CGEN-15001T provide very promising opportunities to utilize these proteins as mAb targets to treat a broad set of key cancer indications with significant unmet medical needs, and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Compugen to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Some of these risks are: changes in relationships with collaborators; the impact of competitive products and technological changes; risks relating to the development of new products; and the ability to implement technological improvements. These and other factors are discussed in the “Risk Factors” section Compugen’s Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2011 as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition, any forward-looking statements represent Compugen’s views only as of the date of this release and should not be relied upon as representing its views as of any subsequent date. Compugen does not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statements unless required by law.