The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and UroGen Pharma Ltd. today announced a strategic three-year collaboration agreement to advance combinatorial intravesical immunotherapy, which is delivered directly into the bladder, for the treatment of high-grade non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (HG-NMIBC).
UroGen’s approach involves the local delivery of potent immunomodulators (UGN-201, a TLR 7/8 agonist and UGN-301, an anti-CTLA-4 antibody). UGN-301, an immune checkpoint inhibitor, is delivered using UroGen’s proprietary RTGelTM platform to increase dwell time, which has been shown to significantly improve the effectiveness of intravesical therapy.
“We are pleased to enter into this collaboration with MD Anderson and its immunotherapy platform, which brings unique translational and clinical expertise in immuno-oncology,” said Mark Schoenberg, M.D., chief medical officer of UroGen Pharma. “This agreement will help UroGen potentially bring next-generation immunotherapy to bladder cancer patients with a significant unmet need and limited clinical options other than bladder removal.”
Under the agreement, MD Anderson and UroGen will collaborate on the design and conduct of non-clinical and clinical studies with oversight from a joint steering committee. UroGen will provide funding, developmental candidates, and other support.
UroGen’s investigational candidates, UGN-201 and UGN-301, are being developed to ablate tumors by non-surgical means in the treatment of HG-NMIBC. Non-clinical data suggest treatment with the combination of UGN-201 and an anti-CTLA4 antibody, delivered using UroGen’s proprietary RTGel platform, may result in improved survival and decreased tumor size.
“Immune checkpoint inhibitors have become important treatment options for many patients with bladder cancer, and we look forward to working with UroGen to advance new immunotherapy strategies with intravesical delivery,” said James Allison, Ph.D., chair of Immunology, executive director of the immunotherapy platform and co-director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at MD Anderson. “This novel delivery approach has the potential to limit the adverse events seen with systemic immunotherapy treatment while providing clinical benefit, which would represent a major advancement to patient care.”