Eli Lilly and Company and Immunocore have entered into an immunotherapy-based clinical trial collaboration to explore the utility of IMCgp100 in combination with galunisertib and merestinib to treat melanoma.

The deal is aimed at identifying combination regimens that provide synergies in efficacy and durability in patients with metastatic cutaneous and uveal melanomas.

IMCgp100 is Immunocore’s lead T cell receptor-based investigational therapeutic, while galunisertib (LY2157299) is Lilly’s TGF beta R1 kinase inhibitor and merestinib (LY2801653) is a multi-kinase inhibitor.

"We are very pleased to be able to announce a second collaboration with Lilly after entering into a collaboration last year."

As part of the deal, the companies will conduct a Phase Ib/II clinical trial evaluating the safety and preliminary efficacy of IMCgp100 in combination with galunisertib in metastatic cutaneous melanoma.

They will also conduct a second Phase Ib/II trial evaluating the combination of IMCgp100 and merestinib to treat metastatic uveal melanoma.

Lilly will act as trial sponsor for these studies, which are expected to be initiated next year.

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By GlobalData

Both IMCgp100 and galunisertib are members of a new class of cancer treatments called immunotherapies, which are designed to improve the body’s own immune system in fighting cancer.

Immunocore chief executive officer Eliot Forster said: "We are very pleased to be able to announce a second collaboration with Lilly after entering into a collaboration last year.

"Combining our ImmTAC, IMCgp100 with Lilly’s galunisertib and merestinib has the potential to transform the treatment of metastatic cutaneous and uveal melanoma.

"Immunocore is committed to the development of IMCgp100 in metastatic uveal and cutaneous melanoma where there is such great unmet medical need."

In July 2014, the two firms entered into a co-discovery and co-development collaboration to research and potentially develop other novel T cell-based cancer therapies built on Immunocore’s ImmTAC platform.

Recently, Immunocore had reported clinical efficacy data in a Phase I/IIa trial with IMCgp100 in patients with advanced melanoma, as well as in the expansion cohort with uveal melanoma.

IMCgp100 mobilises mTCR Against Cancer molecules (ImmTAC), which are a new class of bi-specific biologic drugs based on T cell receptors (TCRs) with ultra-high affinity for intracellular and extracellular cancer targets.

Image: Molecular basis for melanoma cell motility. Photo: courtesy of Julio C. Valencia.