Mechanism of Action
Dedicated to Harnessing the Power of the Immune System to Combat Cancer
Recent advances in cancer immunotherapy are providing new treatment options and better outcomes for people living with cancer. Immunotherapy treatments, such as immune checkpoint inhibitors, have the potential to effectively release the brakes on the immune system and allow immune cells, known as T cells, to attack a tumor. However, checkpoint inhibitors are generally only effective in patients that already have an activated T cell response targeting their tumors. A majority of people living with cancer have tumors without T cells and do not respond to this immunotherapy.
Checkmate Pharmaceuticals’ mission is to tackle a significant challenge for physicians and patients in cancer immunotherapy: to engage the innate immune system in a way that initiates or restores a systemic adaptive immune response with anti-tumor T cells. The distinct mechanism of action of CMP-001, along with its delivery as a biologic virus-like particle, has the potential to generate tumor-targeted T cells capable of killing a tumor both locally and systemically in combination with checkpoint inhibitors, thus potentially improving outcomes for people whose tumors are non-responsive to immunotherapies. CMP-001 is being investigated in patients with various types of cancer, including melanoma and head and neck, whose tumors have proven to be resistant to checkpoint inhibitors. It is also under investigation by third parties for certain types of cancer that are particularly resistant to immunotherapy, such as colorectal cancer.
Making Immunotherapy Work Harder
For decades, it has been known that certain immune cells called cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) can destroy cancer cells, yet they fail to play this key role in many patients suffering from cancer. Tumors produce “immune checkpoint proteins” that suppress the cancer fighting activity of CTLs. This discovery led to a new class of therapeutics called checkpoint inhibitors. While these therapies are a significant advance, they fail to work on many types of cancer.
The efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors may be dramatically increased by combining them with an immune activator to stimulate T cells. Many different immune activators have been tested and the Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) agonist CpG-A oligonucleotides, like CMP-001, have been found to be the strongest at stimulating anti-tumor CTLs. The unique combination CMP-001 with checkpoint inhibitor therapy may result in increased clinical benefit and provide new treatment options for patients with cancer.