The study will focus on checkpoint inhibitor refractory non-small cell lung cancer

Tilt Biotherapeutics – a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing cancer immunotherapies – has announced that it has signed a second clinical trial collaboration and supply agreement with MSD, a trade name of Merck.

The partnership will involve a new clinical trial evaluating TILT-123 – the company’s oncolytic adenovirus with two human cytokines – in combination with Keytruda, also known as pembrolizumab. This treatment is MSD’s anti-PD-1 therapy.

The phase 1, open label, dose escalation trial will include 12 to 24 patients with immune checkpoint inhibitor refractory non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). It is the latest trial that builds on the company’s emerging data on the use of TILT-123, which is currently in trials for several other indications where promising results of intravenous usability have motivated the expansion of the portfolio of trials.

Tilt’s chief executive officer, Akseli Hemminki,  said: “We already have clinical trials running in Europe and the US in several cancer types, including ovarian cancer, head and neck cancer, and melanoma. We are planning several more, one of which is this new collaboration in NSCLC with our collaborator MSD.

“Overall, our armed oncolytic viruses are showing potential in the clinic to increase the anti-tumour benefits of checkpoint inhibitors for a range of cancers where there is a pressing need for better therapies.”

Tilt’s approach revolves around the use of armed oncolytic adenoviruses, using cytokines and other molecules to boost the patient’s T-cell immune response, increasing its ability to find and destroy cancer cells.