BioInvent International has signed a clinical trial pact with Cancer Research UK, Cancer Research Technology, and Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research to test the potential of its experimental antibody in reducing resistance to rituximab treatment in patients with certain blood cancers.

The move will see BioInvent’s fully-human anti-CD32b antagonistic antibody BI-1206 taken into a collaborative Phase I/II trial for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), probably sometime during the second half of this year.

The first-in-man study will be funded and conducted by CR UK, CRT and LLR, while BioInvent has the option to take up an exclusive license to the study data, subject to payment of milestones and royalties to CRT.

In addition to directly killing tumour cells, BI-1206 is thought to work by maintaining CD20 antibodies on the cell membrane of cancer cells, preventing them from becoming resistant to the current state-of-the-art treatment, rituximab.

The antibody has shown promise both in combination with CD20 antibodies and as a single agent in CLL and other types of NHL in preclinical studies carried out by LLR-funded scientists at the University of Southampton, the groups said.