Heidelberg, Germany, November 9, 2020 – Affimed N.V. (Nasdaq: AFMD), a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company committed to giving patients back their innate ability to fight cancer, announced today that preclinical data – generated through a collaboration with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Washington University School of Medicine – will be the focus of an oral presentation at the virtual Annual Meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC), identifying promising combinations of Innate Cell Engager (ICE®) AFM13 with cytokine-activated adult blood or cord blood natural killer (NK) cells against CD30-positive hematological malignancies.
NK cell-based immunotherapies represent an emerging field of targeting hard-to-treat cancers. To evaluate the potential of innate cell engagers (ICE®) to trigger NK cell-directed tumor cell killing, the collaborative research analyzed AFM13-mediated tumor cell killing in combination with several NK cell products, including conventional (c)NK cells from healthy donors, NK cells from patients with Hodgkin Lymphoma, cytokine-induced memory-like (ML) NK cells from peripheral blood and preactivated and expanded cord blood (cb) NK cells. Affimed’s tetravalent bispecific ICE® AFM13 binds to CD30, a protein found on tumor cells, as well as CD16A, a molecule found on NK cells and macrophages, triggering the innate immune system to initiate tumor-cell killing. The cbNK cells were then stably pre-loaded with AFM13, enhancing responses to CD30+ lymphomas in vitro and in vivo in immunodeficient NSG mouse models.
AFM13-preloaded cNK cells from healthy donors exhibited superior responses versus those from Hodgkin lymphoma patients suggesting that the source of NK cells impacts tumor cell killing. IL-12, IL-15, and IL-18-induced ML NK cells exhibited enhanced killing of CD30+ lymphoma cells when directed by AFM13, compared to cNK cells. Similarly, AFM13 combined with cord-blood expanded NK cells that were pre-activated with IL-12, IL-15 and IL-18 also exhibited tumor cell killing compared to expanded cb NK cells.
The presented data formed the basis of an Investigational New Drug (IND) Application and further substantiate the rationale for combining AFM13 with adoptive NK cell-based therapies, as is being currently investigated in a Phase I clinical study at MD Anderson (NCT04074746).
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Therapy Acceleration Program® (TAP) and Affimed formed a partnership in 2013 and co-funded phase 2 trials supporting AFM13, a novel tetravalent bispecific antibody directed against human CD30 and CD16A to treat Hodgkin lymphoma patients. LLS committed to investing up to $4.4 million to support the project.
AFM13 is Affimed’s most advanced ICE® clinical program, and it is currently being evaluated as a monotherapy in a registration-directed trial in patients with relapsed/refractory peripheral T-cell lymphoma (REDIRECT). The study is actively recruiting and can be found at www.clinicaltrials.gov using the identifier NCT04101331.