New viruses

Targovax has conducted in vivo studies of ONCOS-102 in mesothelioma and melanoma mouse models to validate the scientific rationale for the clinical combination strategies in these indications. Data were published in leading, peer reviewed publications, the Journal of Medical Virology and Cancer Gene Therapy.

In an immunodeficient mesothelioma mouse model, it was shown that ONCOS-102 acts synergistically to reduce tumor volume with the chemotherapy combination of pemetrexed and cisplatin (Pem/Cis), which is the current standard of care in malignant pleural mesothelioma. We have also demonstrated that ONCOS-102 induced CD8+ T-cells specific to the tumor associated antigen (TAA) mesothelin, which is typically overexpressed in mesothelioma, as well as many other forms of cancer (Kuryk et al, 2018, JMV).

  • Pem/Cis alone did not reduce tumor volume
  • ONCOS-102 alone reduced tumor volume by 56%
  • ONCOS-102 + Pem/Cis reduced tumor volume by 75% relative to Pem/Cis alone and by 33% relative to ONCOS-102 alone
  • ONCOS-102 induced a mesothelin specific T-cell response (ELISPOT analysis)

The efficacy of the combination of ONCOS-102 and PD-1 checkpoint inhibition (Keytruda, two different doses) has been assessed in a humanized melanoma mouse model, which showed a synergistic anti-tumor effect of ONCOS-102 and PD-1 blockade:

  • Keytruda alone at both doses did not reduce tumor volume
  • ONCOS-102 reduced tumor volume by 51%
  • ONCOS-102 + Keytruda reduced volume by 61% (lower dose) and 69 % (higher dose)

In addition, it was also shown in the humanized melanoma mouse model that the ONCOS-102 and Keytruda combination can induce an abscopal effect. This is an important mechanistic finding, which validates in vivo that ONCOS-102 can generate systemic anti-tumor immune responses that lead to a reduction in the size of non-injected lesions. These data were published in the Journal of Medical Virology in June 2019.

These in vivo data demonstrate the mode of action and anti-tumor activity of ONCOS-102 as a single agent, as well as the potential to act synergistically with both chemotherapy and checkpoint blockade, and thus underpin the scientific rationale for the ongoing

“Next generation ONCOS viruses have double transgenes and distinct mode of actions”


Next generation ONCOS viruses

The ONCOS platform is based on a versatile double-stranded DNA adenovirus serotype 5 backbone. The core construct includes two genetic modifications to enhance cancer specificity:

  1. A 24bp deletion in the E1A region to ensure selective replication in actively dividing cells
  2. Replacement of the serotype 5 to a serotype 3 fiber knob; this leads the virus to primarily infect via the DSG2 and CD46 receptors, which are typically upregulated on cancer cells

In addition, the ONCOS backbone can carry transgenes that can be delivered to tumors by local expression in infected host cells. The transgene inserted into Targovax lead clinical product ONCOS-102 is GM-CSF, which stimulates tumor antigen processing by antigen presenting cells (APCs). In the second generation ONCOS viruses, Targovax has been able to increase the DNA payload capacity of the backbone to include two transgenes. Three new ONCOS viruses with double transgenes have been cloned and validated in vitro and are now being tested in vivo. Patent applications for these novel constructs were filed in April 2019.

Our aim during the remainder of 2019 is to develop preclinical data from the next generation ONCOS viruses and later select one or more candidates to subsequently bring forward into clinical testing.