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Hummingbird Bioscience, MD Anderson Partner to Study VISTA Checkpoint Inhibitor

NEW YORK – Hummingbird Bioscience said on Monday it has partnered with MD Anderson Cancer Center to study its VISTA antagonist antibody HMBD-002.

Over the multiyear collaboration, Hummingbird and MD Anderson will design and conduct clinical and translational research studies of HMBD-002 as a monotherapy and in combination with other checkpoint inhibitors. Hummingbird will have access to MD Anderson's immunotherapy platform and leverage its expertise in comprehensive immune profiling to identify biomarkers predictive of response or adverse events to HMBD-002.

In preclinical studies, HMBD-002 has shown to inhibit tumor growth and significantly prolong progression-free survival as a single agent and with anti-PD1 drugs in several cancer types. The studies also showed that VISTA is a co-inhibitory immune checkpoint that suppresses T-cell activity and is associated with a lack of response to other checkpoint therapies, like anti-PD-1 treatments. HMBD-002 is designed to block VISTA and allow the immune system to attack tumors.

At MD Anderson, Padmanee Sharma, professor of genitourinary medical oncology and immunology, and James Allison, regental chair of immunology, will oversee the collaboration. The clinical study of HMBD-002 will be led by Jordi Rodon, associate professor of investigational cancer therapeutics and genomic medicine at MD Anderson.

"Targeting VISTA is an exciting area of immunotherapy research with the potential to have an impact on a variety of cancer types," Sharma said in a statement. "This collaboration aligns our expertise in studying the anti-tumor immune response with Hummingbird's novel therapeutic pipeline."