Compugen Ltd. ( NASDAQ: CGEN) announced today the predictive discovery and selection of five candidate targets for antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) cancer therapy. These five potential ADC targets, representing the initial results from the Company’s second focused in silico discovery program, are now entering initial experimental validation to be followed by antibody discovery and development activities. Initial results are expected during the second half of 2014.
ADC therapy utilizes antibodies to selectively target proteins on the surface of cancer cells for the delivery of highly toxic chemicals. This selective delivery is designed to limit the damage to healthy tissues, thereby reducing the side effects as compared to chemotherapy. To date, two approved ADC drugs have demonstrated impressive clinical proof of concept for this exciting new class of oncology drugs, and there are multiple additional ADC drugs in clinical development. Therefore, the discovery of target proteins meeting the requirements for utilizing ADC technology in the treatment of cancer is an area of high industry interest.
ADC target discovery is Compugen's second focused in silico discovery program, following the success of its first focused discovery program for the discovery of immune checkpoint targets for treatment of cancer and immune diseases. Compugen’s ADC target discovery program, which was initiated earlier this year, utilizes the same underlying predictive discovery infrastructure as the Company’s earlier immune checkpoint program, with the addition of certain algorithms and other computational capabilities specifically developed for this effort. In both programs, the objective is to first identify an appropriate set of proteins with the support of the Company’s proprietary predictive human proteome, and then select from this set those proteins predicted to have the highest probability of meeting each program’s specific requirements.
More specifically for the ADC program, Compugen’s discovery infrastructure was expanded by incorporating additional algorithms that enable prediction of membrane proteins having the potential to internalize, that are both expressed on cancer cells and have low expression on healthy cells, in order to allow the ADC drug to selectively attack the tumor and spare healthy tissues. It was additionally enhanced to identify targets associated with advanced cancer stages and poor clinical outcome, in order to provide potential superior first-in-class treatment to patient populations with limited therapeutic options.