Galectin Therapeutics (GALT) Announces OncoImmunology Publishes Pre-clinical Research Showing Belapectin Galectin-3 Inhibitor Reduces Tumor Progression in Combination with Anti-OX40 Therapy

March 8, 2021 8:09 AM EST
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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 OncoImmunology demonstrates how belapectin, a potent galectin-3 inhibitor, in combination with an anti-OX40 (CD134) monoclonal antibody, significantly reduces tumor progression compared to either agent alone.

For many years, galectin-3 has been known to play a key role in the control of tumor-induced immunosuppression. Galectin-3 acts to maintain tumor growth, in part, by supporting the generation of suppressive macrophages and inhibiting T cell function.

The paper, titled “Galectin-3 inhibition with belapectin combined with anti-OX40 therapy reprograms the tumor microenvironment to favor anti-tumor immunity,” describes results from a collaboration between Galectin Therapeutics and Providence Cancer Institute in Portland, Oregon. The paper highlights the mechanism of action of the combination which is explained by a reduction in myeloid-derived suppressor cell infiltration and function coupled to an increase in T-cell effector function. In tumor-bearing mice, these effects led to both tumor regression and improved survival.

“Immunotherapy represents a significant breakthrough in the treatment of many cancers. However, tumor-induced suppression could decrease response to anti-OX40 therapy,” said senior author William L. Redmond, Ph.D., Associate Member, Laboratory of Cancer Immunotherapy, and Director, Immune Monitoring Laboratory at the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, a division of Providence. “As galectin-3 drives this tumor-induced immunosuppression, it was an attractive hypothesis to combine belapectin with anti-OX40 immunotherapy. We demonstrated that the addition of belapectin could overcome this resistance and we were also able to decipher the underlying mechanism of action.”

“This is very significant research,” noted Pol F. Boudes, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Galectin Therapeutics. “It further validates the rationale for the ongoing clinical research at Providence Cancer Institute, combining belapectin with pembrolizumab (Keytruda®), a programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1)-blocking antibody. Preliminary results indicated that the combination of Keytruda® and belapectin may improve the efficacy of this potent PD-1 inhibitor while also improving its tolerance.”

Dr. Boudes added, “These data, demonstrating the essential role of cells of the monocytic macrophages lineage can also be translated to our ongoing belapectin clinical program in patients affected with NASH cirrhosis. In cirrhosis, as with the tumor microenvironment of cancer, activated macrophages invade the hepatic parenchyma and promote inflammation, fibrosis and ultimately the failure of this essential organ. Belapectin, thanks to its molecular structure, is uniquely able to target macrophages, which, incidentally, are also the main producer of galectin-3 in liver cirrhosis.”

The OncoImmunology paper is now openly accessible online on the journal website and at galectintherapeutics.com/publications/.



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