Taken together, the immune inhibitory activities and expression profiles of CGEN-15001T and CGEN-15022 point to their potential to serve as promising drug targets for antibody treatment of various solid cancers, an area of substantial unmet need and of great interest to the medical community and pharmaceutical industry. Therapeutic antibodies blocking the function of Compugen's novel immune checkpoints, currently being generated at Compugen's U.S. subsidiary in California, would remove their suppressive effect and therefore stimulate the patient’s own immune system to attack and destroy the tumor. This approach has the potential to provide durable anti-tumor immunity, and thus offer a very promising path for effective cancer immunotherapy.About Immune Checkpoints Immune checkpoints have lately emerged as "game changers" for cancer therapy. Clinical studies employing mAb blockade of immune checkpoints have shown unprecedented durable therapeutic responses that offer a possible cure of metastatic disease. Negative costimulators from the B7/CD28 protein family play key roles as immune checkpoints, regulating the immune system to prevent autoimmunity and to protect tissues from damage during inflammation. The expression of immune checkpoint proteins is dysregulated by tumors and other cells in their microenvironment as an important immune resistance mechanism, which is critical for tumor development. About Compugen Compugen (NASDAQ:CGEN) is a leading therapeutic product discovery company focused on therapeutic proteins and monoclonal antibodies to address important unmet needs in the fields of immunology and oncology. The Company utilizes a broad and continuously growing integrated infrastructure of proprietary scientific understandings and predictive platforms, algorithms, machine learning systems and other computational biology capabilities for the in silico (by computer) prediction and selection of product candidates, which are then advanced in its Pipeline Program. The Company's business model includes collaborations covering the further development and commercialization of selected product candidates from its Pipeline Program and various forms of research and discovery agreements, in both cases providing Compugen with potential milestone payments and royalties on product sales or other forms of revenue sharing. In 2012, Compugen established operations in California for the development of oncology and immunology monoclonal antibody therapeutic candidates against Compugen drug targets. For additional information, please visit Compugen's corporate website at www.cgen.com. This press release may contain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements include words such as “may,” “expects,” “projects,” “anticipates,” “believes” and “intends,” and describe opinions about future events. Forward-looking statements in this press release include, but are not limited to, the potential of CGEN-15001T and CGEN-15022 to serve as promising drug targets for antibody treatment of various cancers. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Compugen to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Some of these risks are: changes in relationships with collaborators, including, without limitation, corporate partners or licensees; the impact of competitive products and technological changes; risks relating to the development of new products in general; risks relating to the research, development, regulatory approval, manufacturing or marketing of new therapeutic or diagnostic products; the ability to implement technological improvements; and risks related to obtaining necessary resources, including, without limitation, capital. These and other factors are discussed in the "Risk Factors" section of Compugen’s Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2011 as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition, any forward-looking statements represent Compugen’s views only as of the date of this release and should not be relied upon as representing its views as of any subsequent date. Compugen does not assume any obligation to update any forward-looking statements unless required by law.
Speaking today at the American Association of Cancer Research Special Conference on Tumor Immunology in Miami, Florida, Dr. Ofer Levy, Senior Scientist at Compugen Ltd., presented data supporting the therapeutic potential of CGEN-15001T and CGEN-15022, proteins discovered by Compugen, as immune checkpoint targets for cancer immunotherapy. This prestigious conference features talks by key opinion leaders, invited to discuss new findings in the field of tumor immunology. Presentations cover both basic and translational research, highlighting rapidly developing advances in this breakthrough approach to cancer treatment. CGEN-15001T and CGEN-15022 are both membrane proteins which were predicted and validated by Compugen as novel B7/CD28-like immune checkpoint candidates. Such checkpoint proteins are expressed on the surface of cancer cells and other cells within the tumor microenvironment, and their negative immune activities protect the tumor from being attacked by the immune system. Both Compugen targets have shown robust inhibitory activity in different assays of T cell activation, and in his talk, Dr. Levy presented some of these findings. The robust inhibitory activities of these novel immune checkpoints, which were previously demonstrated using each target's extracellular domain fused to an Fc antibody fragment, have now also been shown for the targets’ native membrane forms, which is an important finding for antibody targets. In his talk, Dr. Levy presented expression profile data for CGEN-15001T and CGEN-15022 in various cancer types, demonstrating substantially different expression patterns for the two drug targets. As previously disclosed, CGEN-15001T is expressed in various solid cancers and hematological malignancies, including prostate cancer, melanoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, such as T and B cell lymphomas. In addition, CGEN-15001T was shown to be expressed in the infiltrating immune cells within the tumor, further supporting an immunomodulatory role for this target in cancer development. In comparison, CGEN-15022 is highly expressed in liver, lung, breast, colorectal, prostate and ovarian cancers, as described today by Dr. Levy. The high expression levels observed in these cancers compared with their respective normal cells support the development of antibodies with high specificity toward the cancer cells.