Hummingbird Bioscience and MD Anderson Announce Strategic Research Collaboration to Advance Innovative Immunotherapies
– Multi-year collaboration will investigate and evaluate Hummingbird’s HMBD-002 VISTA antagonist antibody
Houston and Singapore, July 12, 2021 – Hummingbird Bioscience, an innovative clinical-stage biotech company focused on developing precision therapies against hard-to-drug targets to produce major improvements in treatment outcomes, and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center today announced the launch of a multi-year strategic research collaboration to investigate and evaluate HMBD-002, Hummingbird’s VISTA antagonist antibody.
Under the agreement, MD Anderson and Hummingbird will collaborate on the design and execution of clinical and translational research studies to better understand how HMBD-002 modulates the anti-tumor immune response, both as a monotherapy and in combination with other checkpoint inhibitors. Working with MD Anderson’s immunotherapy platform and its experts in comprehensive immunoprofiling, the teams will seek to identify biomarkers that may be used to predict clinical outcomes and adverse events.
“We are excited to be collaborating with MD Anderson to advance the clinical research of our novel immunotherapies,” said Jerome Boyd-Kirkup, Ph.D., co-founder and CSO of Hummingbird Bioscience. “These studies will strengthen our understanding of VISTA and other emerging immuno-oncology targets and help us ensure that novel treatment strategies for challenging cancers get to patients as quickly as possible.”
VISTA, an immune checkpoint protein, is an emerging immunotherapy target for cancer that suppresses the anti-tumor immune response. Studies indicate increased levels of VISTA are associated with the emergence of resistance to current cancer immunotherapies. HMBD-002 is designed to inhibit VISTA, removing the suppression of the immune system and allowing it to mount an anti-tumor response.
“Targeting VISTA is an exciting area of immunotherapy research with the potential to have an impact on a variety of cancer types,” said Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology at MD Anderson. “This collaboration aligns our expertise in studying the anti-tumor immune response with Hummingbird’s novel therapeutic pipeline. We look forward to working with Hummingbird to advance immunotherapies that we hope will improve care for our patients.”
Sharma and James Allison, Ph.D., regental chair of Immunology, are co-leaders of MD Anderson’s immunotherapy platform and will oversee the collaboration. Jordi Rodon, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics and Genomic Medicine, will lead the clinical study of HMBD-002 at MD Anderson.
Drs. Sharma and Allison receive compensation as consultants to Hummingbird, and Dr. Sharma holds equity in the company. These financial relationships have been disclosed to MD Anderson in accordance with its COI Policy.
HMBD-002 represents a unique first-in-class anti-VISTA neutralizing antibody, and the only IgG4 isotype anti-VISTA antibody currently in development. It was engineered to bind to VISTA at a specific site that was predicted to be essential for ligand-binding and function, thus inhibiting VISTA and neutralizing its immunosuppressive activity without depleting VISTA expressing cells that play many important roles in the immune system.
Pre-clinical models have shown that HMBD-002 as a monotherapy inhibits tumor growth and significantly prolongs progression-free survival, with no observed toxicity. It has also shown synergy when used in combination with anti-PD-1 therapy.
HMBD-002 is being developed for multiple cancers that have strong evidence of VISTA mediated suppression both as a monotherapy and in combination with PD-1 inhibitor.
Hummingbird’s first-in-class anti-VISTA therapeutic antibody advanced to clinical trials with a US$13.1 million product development grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).
About Hummingbird Bioscience
Hummingbird Bioscience is an innovative clinical-stage biotech company focused on developing precision therapies against hard-to-drug targets to improve treatment outcomes. We harness the latest advances in systems biology and data science to better understand and solve the underlying causes of disease and guide development of our therapeutics.
Enabled by our proprietary Rational Antibody Discovery platform, we discover antibodies against optimal yet elusive epitopes on important targets that have not been successfully drugged, unlocking novel mechanisms of action. We are advancing a rich pipeline of first- and best-in-class precision therapies in oncology and autoimmunity, in collaboration with global partners in academia and industry.
Our highly experienced teams in the US and Singapore span antibody discovery, pharmacology, production and clinical development. Together we aim to accelerate the journey of new drugs from concept to clinical care. For more information, please visit www.hummingbirdbioscience.com, and follow Hummingbird on LinkedIn and Twitter (@hummingbirdbio).
About MD Anderson
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks as one of the world’s most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. The institution’s sole mission is to end cancer for patients and their families around the world. MD Anderson is one of only 49 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). MD Anderson is ranked No.1 for cancer care in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” survey. It has ranked as one of the nation’s top two hospitals for cancer care since the survey began in 1990 and has ranked first 14 times in the last 17 years. MD Anderson receives a cancer center support grant from the NCI of the National Institutes of Health (P30 CA016672).