The Cancer Research Institute (CRI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the discovery and development of powerful immunotherapies for all cancers and RevImmune, Inc., a privately-held biotech company focused on T-cell technology and development, announced today the dosing of the first patient in a new study designed to assess the therapeutic benefit of interleukin-7 (IL-7) in cancer patients with COVID-19. This stems from a new understanding that patients with severe COVID-19 have low levels of T cells and exhausted T cells, and these patients benefit from therapies that focus on augmenting the cellular immune response, rather than solely therapies that dampen the immune system.
The Phase 2 multi-center clinical trial called “ILIAD-7-US-O” will evaluate the clinical benefit of RevImmune’s product candidate CYT107 in approximately 48 patients living with cancer. CYT107 is a therapeutic form of the master growth factor for human T cells, IL-7, and this is the first study to test an IL-7 drug specifically in people with cancer who also have COVID-19. The clinical trial is funded by CRI’s Clinical Accelerator, a program that supports and coordinates early-phase clinical trials of promising immuno-oncology combination therapies.
“This partnership allows CRI to apply RevImmune’s promising IL-7 agent in a novel setting of patients with both cancer and COVID-19, potentially offering a way to strengthen the immune system’s ability to fend off the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, mitigate symptoms of COVID-19, and improve overall outcomes for people living with cancer and COVID,” said Jay Campbell, managing director of CRI’s Venture Fund and Anna-Maria Kellen Clinical Accelerator.
Common cancer treatment regimens can compromise a patient’s immune system, including reductions in lymphocyte counts, such as T cells, a condition known as lymphopenia. Similarly, COVID-19 can lead to dysregulation of the adaptive immune system, which can also result in patients becoming lymphopenic. The profound and protracted lymphopenia experienced in COVID-19 patients has been correlated with increased secondary infections and death. Furthermore, surviving lymphocytes have severely impaired anti-viral function and are exhausted, ultimately resulting in immune system collapse.
IL-7 has been shown to provide a rapid and durable restoration of functional immune cells, predominantly CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, which can fight the primary viral infection and secondary infections. In previous clinical studies, CYT107 has demonstrated the ability to quickly restore immune function, such as increasing the number and diversity of T cells in patients, including those with low and exhausted T cell levels. CYT107 is safe and well-tolerated and patients experienced durable long-lasting responses.
Researchers involved in the ILIAD-7 study hope CYT107 will provide the same benefit to cancer patients with COVID-19, to reduce the risk of progressing to severe stages of COVID-19.
“The medical community has learned a great deal about COVID-19 as a disease this past year and has come to realize that patients who develop severe COVID-19 symptoms have impaired immune systems, including exhausted and depleted T-cells,” said Michel Morre, D.V.M., M.Sc., chief scientific officer at RevImmune. “Therapies like IL-7 reinvigorate and expand the cellular immune response to the infection, and we are excited for the opportunity to continue to follow the science and evaluate a potential treatment option for those affected by both COVID-19 and cancer.”
The ILIAD-7-US-O study tests RevImmune’s recombinant interleukin-7 product, CYT107, on patients with cancer and lymphopenic (with low lymphocyte counts) COVID-19. The trial aims to compare the effects of CYT107 versus placebo at producing immune reconstitution by restoring lymphocyte function and increasing lymphocyte proliferation in oncology patients, where their cancer is being or has been treated with standard of care therapies. The trial hopes to observe a possible clinical improvement as patients with restored lymphocyte counts should better eliminate invading pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2. Approximately 48 patients will be randomized 1:1 to receive either CYT107 or placebo at two trial sites: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, with Stephen M. Pastores, M.D., and Cristina Gutierrez, M.D., as Principal Investigators, respectively. The clinical trial is funded by the CRI Anna-Maria Kellen Clinical Accelerator, a program that supports and coordinates early-phase clinical trials of promising immuno-oncology combination therapies.
The Cancer Research Institute (CRI), established in 1953, is a top-rated U.S. nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to saving more lives by fueling the discovery and development of powerful immunotherapies for all cancers. Guided by a world-renowned Scientific Advisory Council that includes four Nobel laureates and 27 members of the National Academy of Sciences, CRI has invested $445 million in support of research conducted by immunologists and tumor immunologists at the world’s leading medical centers and universities and has contributed to many of the key scientific advances that demonstrate the potential for immunotherapy to change the face of cancer treatment. To learn more, go to cancerresearch.org.
CRI’s clinical program, the Anna-Maria Kellen Clinical Accelerator, is a unique academia-nonprofit-industry collaboration model that serves as an “incubator” that delivers multi-center clinical trials for promising new immunotherapy combinations. CRI’s venture philanthropy fund supports clinical trials within this program, which fosters a collaborative environment that enables scientists to advance their most ambitious research ideas and accelerates studies that one group or company could not do alone. To learn more about the CRI Anna-Maria Kellen Clinical Accelerator, go to cancerresearch.org/clinical-accelerator.
RevImmune is a privately held biotech company based in France, the U.S. and the U.K. RevImmune is in multiple Phase II trials with CYT107 for treatment of sepsis, certain infectious diseases, and certain cancers. Over 500 patients have been treated with CYT107 in RevImmune’s prior and current trials for multiple different viral diseases and sepsis. CYT107 showed an excellent safety profile and encouraging results in those trials. To learn more, go to revimmune.com.