Sosei Group and Cancer Research UK have signed a clinical trial and licence agreement (CTLA) for advancing the former’s cancer immunotherapy candidate into trials.

Under the agreement, the Centre for Drug Development of Cancer Research UK will be responsible for sponsoring, designing and executing a first-in-human Phase I/IIa clinical trial of Sosei Group brand Sosei Heptares’ new selective EP4 antagonist HTL00397322.

The drug has the potential for treating a range of cancers along with other immunotherapies.

Sosei Heptares will handle CTA enabling activities, including IMP manufacture, GLP toxicology and other required pre-clinical studies to prepare for the clinical trial launch.

The company holds a licence to the results that are obtained under the trial to continue HTL0039732’s clinical development as well as commercialisation.

Centre for Drug Development director Dr Nigel Blackburn said: “People with these cancer types have, to date, largely missed out on some of the remarkable advances in the field of immunotherapy.

“We are therefore thrilled to be partnering with Sosei Heptares to bring their novel immunotherapy candidate into human trials. The hope is that with more trials like this, all cancer patients will eventually be able to benefit from this potentially life-saving form of cancer treatment.”

HTL0039732, which selectively attaches and prevents EP4, a specific prostaglandin receptor type, has been proposed for various cancers.

These cancers include gastroesophageal, microsatellite stable colorectal, head and neck, and castrate resistant prostate cancer.

The trial is expected to find that the drug candidate can serve as an immunotherapy for under-served patient populations who have missed out on the benefits offered by common immunotherapies to other types of cancers.