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December 6, 2017 - MCI joins collaboration in cancer immunotherapy

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USA Mitchell Cancer Institute has become one of several institutions worldwide to participate in a translational medicine collaboration in cancer immunotherapy with Vedanta Biosciences, an affiliate of PureTech Health.

Massachusetts-based Vedanta Biosciences, a world leader in the microbiome field, announced the new collaboration with MCI and Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands this week. The company is also expanding collaborations with NYU Langone Health and its Perlmutter Cancer Center in New York.

Researchers are collaborating with Vedanta Biosciences to analyze microbiome clinical data from interventional checkpoint inhibitor studies to identify microbiome signatures associated with response to immunotherapy and key mechanisms through which the gut microbiota modulate immunotherapeutic responses.

“Data from our ongoing clinical collaborations in melanoma show that gut bacteria signatures could help determine if a cancer immunotherapy will work,” said Bruce Roberts, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Vedanta Biosciences. “We’re pleased to expand our research collaborations into others forms of cancer, with the ultimate goal of identifying ways to change the microbiome to increase the proportion of patients and types of cancer patients who respond to immunotherapies.”

Under the agreement with Leiden University Medical Center, Vedanta Biosciences will work in collaboration with Ellen Kapiteijn, M.D., Ph.D., and Ed Kuijper, M.D., Ph.D., to understand the role of the microbiome in immunotherapeutic responses against a variety of cancers, including melanoma, head and neck, and bladder. The new collaboration with MCI, led by Art Frankel, M.D., will analyze associations between the gut microbiome and responses to checkpoint inhibitor treatment in multiple tumor types.

“We could become one of the few places in the country to develop this particular therapy and test it in clinical trials,” Frankel said.

Building on the existing translational work with NYU Langone in melanoma led by Jeffrey S. Weber, M.D., Ph.D., and Melissa Wilson, M.D., Ph.D., the expanded agreement adds collaborations in bladder cancer and lung cancer, led, respectively, by Arjun V. Balar, M.D., and Leena Gandhi, M.D., Ph.D.

Vedanta Biosciences’ immuno-oncology programs include lead product candidate, VE800, which has been shown in preclinical models to activate CD8+ T cells, a type of white blood cell that is the predominant effector in cancer immunotherapy, improve CD8+ T cell tumor infiltration, and improve survival in several cancer models in combination with checkpoint inhibitors. Vedanta said it expects to file an investigational new drug application for this candidate in 2018.

USA Mitchell Cancer Institute is the only academic cancer research and treatment facility on the upper Gulf Coast corridor, with offices in Mobile, Fairhope and Monroeville.

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