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‘Modulating’ tumor treatment
January 2017
by Ilene Schneider  |  Email the author
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COPENHAGEN, Denmark—While there have been significant advancements in treatment options, cancer is still one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Attempting to increase the understanding of the underlying tumor biology in patients, Albumedix—a fully owned subsidiary of Novozymes A/S—has entered into a collaborative research agreement with the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine to explore the potential of novel applications of Albumedix’s albumin-based drug delivery platform, Veltis, to modulate immune pathways discovered at NYU.
 
The Veltis platform optimizes drug dosing through its ability to control dose size and frequency as well as drug loading. These effects are achieved using recombinant human albumin and albumin variants implemented by genetic fusion or chemical conjugation to drug candidates.
 
Vectis is based on recombinant human albumin variants engineered to improve the therapeutic half-life of active pharmaceutical ingredients connected to Veltis and increase its drug payload capacity. The use of albumin to extend the half-life of therapeutic proteins has been clinically validated through the approvals of GlaxoSmithKline’s Tanzeum (GLP-1/albumin fusion for type 2 diabetes) and CSL Behring’s Idelvion (rhFactor IX/albumin fusion for hemophilia). Albumedix has been exploring the potential benefits of its Veltis technology in oncology applications.
 
Albumedix believes that this research collaboration will help expand the mechanistic understanding of how albumin may play a role in facilitating cancer immune regulation.
 
Veltis has the potential to offer drug developers a superior and highly versatile drug delivery platform that presents new opportunities to optimize the pharmacokinetics and efficacy of their peptides, proteins or small-molecule drugs to achieve stricter patient compliance for improved therapeutic impact.
 
NYU School of Medicine, which has approximately $260 million in annual research funding, has developed numerous biomedical products. Some are currently advancing in drug discovery and development, while others have been used to treat more than two million patients worldwide.
 
According to Dr. Darrell Sleep, chief scientific officer at Albumedix, “As part of the collaboration, Albumedix will utilize its albumin-based drug delivery platform, Veltis, to develop albumin-drug conjugates. We will provide insightful know-how related to the modulated receptor interaction of our engineered recombinant albumin variants (Veltis). Dr. Dafna Bar-Sagi, vice dean for science and chief scientific officer at NYU Langone Medical Center, and her laboratory will be responsible for evaluating the immune-modulatory effect of these albumin-drug constructs in appropriate animal and human-based cancer model systems.”
 
He added, “Albumin-based therapies have already offered important benefits to patients worldwide. This collaboration enables us to take another step towards broadening their therapeutic potential. Dr. Bar-Sagi and her team are renowned experts who bring an extraordinary understanding of oncology to this collaboration.”
 
Commenting on the collaboration, Bar-Sagi said, “Here at NYU, we have recently identified a number of novel and exciting immunomodulatory pathways in cancer. We look forward to exploring how such pathways can be targeted therapeutically using Albumedix’s technology.”
 
Because cancer treatments are attempting to increase the survival time of patients while maximizing their quality of life, Sleep believes that “improving our understanding of what pathways within a particular cancer are modified or ameliorated is fundamental for current and future drug development.” Because the cancer cellular changes and responses are complex and differ among cancer types and from patient to patient, he looks forward to “strengthening our knowledge about the underlying biology, such as the tumor microenvironment and the complex interplay between immune regulation and tumor growth,” in order to “direct development effort towards more targeted and effective therapies.”
 
The collaboration will explore the potential of this novel application of Albumedix’s albumin-based drug delivery platform, Veltis, to modulate the immune pathways discovered at NYU. Once the initial proof-of concept studies have been successfully completed, the collaborators “will work together to fully exploit the opportunities which open up to us,” Sleep said.
 
He added, “For many years it has been understood and recognized that albumin will accumulate at sites of inflammation and in tumors, and so Albumedix has been exploring the potential benefits of its Veltis technology in oncology applications. This research collaboration will help expand the mechanistic understanding of how albumin may play a role in facilitating cancer immune regulation, specifically the potential of Albumedix’s engineered albumin-drug constructs as immuno-oncology therapies in novel immunomodulatory pathways. As for the potential commercial value of such a collaboration, this is yet to be demonstrated.”
 
Code: E011705

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