CARsgen Therapeutics has announced a collaboration agreement with F. Hoffmann-La Roche (Roche) to assess AB011, along with atezolizumab, to treat gastric cancer.

The collaboration will evaluate CARsgen’s investigational drug AB011, Roche’s PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor atezolizumab, and the standard-of-care chemotherapy combination in gastric or gastroesophageal junction carcinoma patients.

Under the deal terms, Roche will handle the operations and conduct the trial while the costs of the study’s AB011 treatment arms will be shared by both companies.

CARsgen will use its CLDN18.2 IHC test kit for assessing the CLDN18.2 expression in the gastric cancer patients, as part of the clinical collaboration.

CARsgen founder, Board chairman, CEO, and chief scientific officer Dr Zonghai Li said: “We are glad to work with Roche, a global leader in oncology, to explore the potential of AB011 in combination with atezolizumab and chemotherapy for the treatment of gastric cancer.

“CLDN18.2 is a promising therapeutic target for the treatment of CLDN18.2 positive solid tumours, including gastric cancer, [and] pancreatic cancer.

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“AB011 is an important asset in the CLDN18.2 franchise of CARsgen and is the first monoclonal antibody against CLDN18.2 that received IND clearance in China.”

Through the collaboration, the companies will evaluate the combination that can potentially bring greater clinical benefits to patients with gastric cancer.

The study of the AB011 and atezolizumab combination will be conducted as part of the Morpheus Platform of Roche.

The platform is said to be a collection of Phase Ib/II clinical trials in several cancers, including gastrointestinal cancer, with high unmet clinical needs.