Development of a new medicine for immunotherapy of cancer patients

Developing and optimising inhibitors for next-generation immuno-oncology (NextIO)

There has been a revolution in cancer treatment whereby the immune system is boosted by new precision medicines. However, these therapies fail to provide durable clinical benefit to the majority of cancer patients. This is where the NextIO project, a public private partnership between the Netherlands Cancer Institute and the start-up biotech company Immagene aim to make a difference.

Specifically, NKI has discovered a new therapeutic target in cancer cells, inhibition of which strongly increases its susceptibility to killing by the immune system. Because this was done in a laboratory environment with reagents that cannot be used clinically, Immagene will develop a precision medicine to translate the discovery from the laboratory to the benefit of the patient.

The expected societal impact of this project is the expansion of the depth and durability of the therapeutic effect of immunotherapy. Together, the NKI and Immagene aim to treat a group of patients that have already seen some success with immunotherapy, but where resistance mechanisms lead to tumor relapse and progression. Additionally, methods have been uncovered to identify the specific patient group that will benefit most from this medicine, reducing costs of treatment and improving clinical outcome.

The NextIO project will support Immagene to develop a new precision medicine by state-of-the-art chemistry. At the NKI, fundamental research will be performed to test candidate medicines and study potential resistance mechanisms. This programme will deliver a medicine that boosts immunotherapy. It will be tested in a pre-clinical setting, the first step towards treating patients.

The immune system has potent mechanisms with which it deals with intruding viruses, bacteria and tumors, protecting us from disease. However, tumors contain mutations leading to resistance to the immune system. The NextIO project aims to develop a medicine that restores the sensitivity of the cancer to the immune system.
Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
2 - 3
Time period
24 months
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