Celldex Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: CLDX) today announced positive results demonstrating promising clinical effects in a Phase 1 study of CDX-1401 in solid tumors in combination with the toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists resiquimod and/or Poly ICLC (Hiltonol TM). CDX-1401 is a fusion protein consisting of a fully human monoclonal antibody with specificity for the dendritic cell receptor DEC-205 linked to the NY-ESO-1 tumor antigen. The NY-ESO-1 antigen is expressed in a variety of cancer cells. Targeting protein antigens to the DEC-205 receptor on dendritic cells was pioneered by the late Ralph Steinman, MD, a member of Celldex’s Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Steinman received the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity. In preclinical studies, CDX-1401 has been shown to induce potent and broad immunity. The Phase 1 study of CDX-1401 is the first clinical study to demonstrate that an off-the-shelf vaccine that targets dendritic cells in vivo through DEC-205 can safely lead to robust humoral and cellular immunity when combined with TLR agonists in cancer patients - overcoming a significant challenge in the development of protein based vaccines.
“In the CDX-1401 study, we were able to translate the important preclinical work led by Dr. Steinman’s lab into clinical benefit, generating protein specific immunity including both antibody and T cell responses in patients with advanced cancers known to express NY-ESO-1. This is an important milestone for the field of targeted vaccine development and for the development of CDX-1401 specifically. Importantly, some patients had evidence of clinical benefit with significant stable disease and measurable tumor shrinkage, despite their advanced stage of metastatic disease. The ability to target proteins to dendritic cells represents a promising approach for the next generation of vaccines against pathogens and cancer,” said Madhav V. Dhodapkar, MBBS, Arthur H. and Isabel Bunker Professor of Medicine and Immunobiology, Chief of the Section of Hematology at the Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Research Program Leader of the Hematology Program at Yale Cancer Center and the lead investigator of the study.