NEW YORK – Hummingbird Bioscience said on Monday that it has partnered with Merck to study its anti-VISTA antibody HMBD-002 with Merck's pembrolizumab (Keytruda) for triple-negative breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, and other cancers with high VISTA expression.
Singapore-based Hummingbird will evaluate the safety, tolerability, and anti-tumor activity of the treatment combination, which in preclinical studies stopped tumor growth. HMBD-002, which has also shown potential as a monotherapy in preclinical studies, works by blocking the VISTA checkpoint. VISTA expression is associated with suppressed T-cell activity, which in turn hampers responses to anti-PD-1 treatments like pembrolizumab.
Hummingbird identified TNBC and NSCLC as cancers that have both high VISTA expression and significant unmet need, and therefore it chose to prioritize them for initial clinical development.
Earlier this year, Hummingbird also announced a partnership with the MD Anderson Cancer Center to study HMBD-002 in various cancer types.
The firm expects HMBD-002 to enter a Phase I trial by the end of the year.