OSE Immunotherapeutics presented promising data from preclinical experiments of its investigational treatment OSE-127 (Effi-7) for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) at FOCIS 2017, the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies, held June 14-17 in Chicago.
The drug, an antibody that blocks the alpha chain of the interleukin-7 receptor (IL-7R), prevented T-cells (immune cells) from entering gut tissue both in cells and tissue samples from IBD patients, thereby reducing inflammation.
“Strengthened by first-class academic collaborations, our studies demonstrate a differentiated mechanism of action for OSE-127 able to fight pathologic [disease-causing] local homing of inflammatory T lymphocytes,” Nicolas Poirier, the French company’s chief scientific officer, said in a press release.
Researchers believe that IL-7R, also called CD127, controls migration of so-called effector T-cells in the tissue, particularly in the gut. Earlier studies have shown that blocking IL-7R prevents effector T-cells from traveling to the tissue while having no impact on regulatory T-cells. This is an important line of defense — a favorable situation in people with an autoimmune condition such as IBD.
Presented in the study, “IL-7 pathway controls human T cell homing to the gut and culminates in inflammatory bowel disease mucosa,” the experiments showed that by stopping T-cell migration, OSE-127 prevented the destruction of gut mucosa.
OSE worked with Thomas McDonald, a professor at the Blizard Institute, a division of Barts and the London School of Medicine, to study how OSE-127 affected disease in colon biopsies from IBD patients. They discovered that OSE-127 reduced production of the inflammatory factor interferon-gamma from T-cells.
They also noted higher gene activity levels of IL-7 and its receptor IL-7R, as well as other genes involved in the IL-7R cell signaling pathway, in these patients. These factors were related to a failure to respond to current immunosuppressive IBD drugs.
This finding may allow researchers to identify patients who are likely candidates for treatment with OSE-127, once it reaches clinical trials.
In December 2016, Servier licensed OSE-127 from OSE Immunotherapeutics with the aim to develop and commercialize the treatment.
“The strong presence of the product’s target in situations of therapeutic escape implies an important medical need as more than 40 percent of these patients are in therapeutic failure,” said Poirier. “These findings provide additional evidence of OSE-127’s therapeutic potential in these patients.”