Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer Publishes Phase 1 Clinical Research Showing Belapectin, Galectin Therapeutics’ Galectin-3 Inhibitor, Enhances Tumor Response in Combination with Anti-PD-1 Therapy
Combination therapy with belapectin suggests a better objective response rate with fewer adverse events than pembrolizumab (KEYTRUDA) alone
NORCROSS, Ga., April 13, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Galectin Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ:GALT), the leading developer
of therapeutics that target galectin proteins, today announced that a paper published in the peer-reviewed Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer (JITC), the highest ranked fully open access
immunology journal, provides further clinical evidence that using belapectin, a potent galectin-3 inhibitor, in combination with pembrolizumab (KEYTRUDA), a PD-1 inhibitor, significantly enhances
tumor response to immunotherapy in patients with advanced metastatic melanoma (MM) and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).
The paper, titled “Enhancing Clinical and Immunological Effects of anti-PD-1 with Belapectin, a Galectin-3 Inhibitor” (doi:10.1136/jitc-2021-002371) describes results from an ongoing Phase 1 clinical study, a collaboration between Galectin Therapeutics and Providence Cancer Institute in Portland, Oregon.
Following the recent publication of positive preclinical results that showed the inhibition of galectin-3 in combination with an agonist anti-OX40 monoclonal antibody reprograms the tumor microenvironment to favor anti-tumor activity, the current study tests the clinical hypothesis that galectin-3 blockade with belapectin in combination with pembrolizumab enhances tumor response for patients with advanced MM or HNSCC.
In the study, as previously disclosed, an objective response was observed in 50% of MM (7/14) and 33% of HNSCC (2/6) patients. This compares favorably to published response rates on pembrolizumab alone. The authors noted that the combination was associated with fewer immune-mediated adverse events than anticipated with pembrolizumab alone. In addition, the analysis of patients’ tumor tissue revealed reduced monocytic myeloid-derived suppressor cells and increased effector memory T-cell activation in responders compared with non-responders. Also, an increased baseline expression of galectin-3 positive tumor cells correlated with clinical response.
“Immunotherapy is a significant breakthrough in the treatment of many cancers, but tumor-induced immune suppression contributes to treatment resistance. Galectin-3 is an important driver of this tumor-induced immunosuppression, and this clinical study constitutes proof-of-concept that the addition of belapectin, a galectin-3 inhibitor, to a PD-1 inhibitor can benefit cancer patients,” said Dr. Brendan Curti, M.D., Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, a division of Providence, and the first author of the paper.