Immune checkpoint inhibitors are an emerging category of anticancer drug that work by blocking a mechanism that tumor cells use to avoid detection – and thus attack – by the body's immune cells.
In some cancer studies, checkpoint inhibitors had modest response rates, but the responses achieved were highly durable. There is considerable interest in evaluating checkpoint inhibitors in combination with other anticancer therapies to achieve durable responses in more patients, a goal of combination regimens in oncology.
Many of the ADCs developed by us and our partners use an ImmunoGen-proprietary maytansinoid (MAY) cancer-killing agent. Recent laboratory studies conducted by ImmunoGen and academics indicate that MAY ADCs can promote changes in cells of the immune system – the maturation and activation of dendritic cells – that can help stimulate antitumor responses.1,2
Roche's MAY ADC Kadcyla® (ado-trastuzumab emtansine) is now being tested in combination with two different checkpoint inhibitors. We will be testing our MAY ADC mirvetuximab soravtansine in combination with Merck's Keytruda® (pembrolizumab) in our FORWARD II trial.
1ImmunoGen internal research
2Martin, Müller, et. al, Cancer Immunol Immunother (2014) 63:925-938
Kadcyla® and Keytruda® are registered trademarks of their respective owners.