Minnesota Scientists Develop Small Peptide to Block Checkpoint Inhibition System in Brain, Possibly Enabling Immunotherapy Treatment of Glioblastoma; Success Seen in Dog Models; Stage 1 Human Clinical Trial Anticipated for Mid-Summer 2019

As sometimes happens in science, a seeming failure can occasionally lead to great success. That is the hope of University of Minnesota scientists Michael Olin (left in photo), PhD, and his colleague Chris Moertel (right in photo), MD, who have co-founded a new company, OX2 Therapeutics, together with Californian biotech entrepreneur Sumant Dhawan, in order to advance a promising peptide molecule into phase 1 human clinical trials for the treatment of glioblastoma, one of the deadliest brain tumors in humans. The peptide interferes with the dual paired receptor (CD200R1/CD200AR) immune checkpoint system to counter glioblastoma’s overproduction of soluble CD200 (originally named OX2) that acts to suppress the body’s immune response against the cancer. Drs. Olin and Moertel say that their team has developed a small peptide inhibitor (15 amino acids) to interfere specifically with this CD200 checkpoint inhibition system to empower the body’s own immune system to attack and defeat glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). In fact, based in part on the success of the addition of this peptide to tumor lysate vaccines in extending the lifespan of brachycephalic (short-nosed) dogs that naturally develop glioblastoma, CMO Dr. Moertel said that he “anticipates” that a phase 1 clinical trial of this peptide will begin in mid-summer 2019. This trial will be led by neuro-oncologist Elizabeth Neil, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology at the University of Minnesota, and will include 14-18 adult glioblastoma patients who have experienced recurrent glioblastoma.
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