Bergen, Norway, 26 April 2021 – BerGenBio ASA (OSE:BGBIO), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel, selective AXL kinase inhibitors for severe unmet medical need, is pleased to announce that a poster presentation on pre-clinical COVID-19 data has been accepted for presentation at Virtual Immunology 2021, taking place from 10-15 May 2021. Virtual Immunology 2021 is the 104th annual conference of the American Association of Immunologists.
The presentation illustrates findings from a pre-clinical study conducted by BerGenBio’s scientific collaborator Professor Wendy Maury, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Iowa, to evaluate AXL as a
therapeutic target for COVID-19 and the potential effect of BerGenBio’s selective AXL inhibitor bemcentinib, shown to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 infection in in vitro and in vivo models.
The abstract was deemed to be exceptional by the Virtual Immunology 2021 reviewers so the author, Dana Bohan, a PhD candidate from the University of Iowa, will receive a 2021 AAI Late Breaking Poster Award.
Poster presentation details at Virtual Immunology 2021 are as follows:
Title: Phosphatidylserine Receptors Enhancement of SARS-CoV-2 Entry: AXL as a Therapeutic Target for COVID-19
Date: Monday, May 10th 2021
Time: 6:30-8:00pm ET
The poster presentation will be made available at BerGenBio’s website www.bergenbio.com at the date of the presentation.
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AXL kinase is a cell membrane receptor and an essential mediator of the biological mechanisms underlying life-threatening diseases.
In COVID-19, AXL has two synergistic mechanisms of action, it acts a co-receptor to ACE2, to which the spike protein of the Sars-Cov-2 virus attaches and enters the host cell, and AXL expression is upregulated that leads to suppression of the Type 1 Interferon immune response by host cells and in their environment. Research data confirms bemcentinib inhibits SARS-CoV-2 host cell entry and promotes the anti-viral Type I interferon response.
In cancer, increase in AXL expression has been linked to key mechanisms of drug resistance and immune escape by tumour cells, leading to aggressive metastatic cancers. AXL suppresses the body’s immune response to tumours and drives treatment failure across many cancers. High AXL expression defines a very poor prognosis subgroup in most cancers. AXL inhibitors, such as bemcentinib, therefore, have potential high value as monotherapy and as the cornerstone of cancer combination therapy, addressing significant unmet medical needs and multiple high-value market opportunities. Research has also shown that AXL mediates other aggressive diseases including fibrosis.
Bemcentinib (formerly known as BGB324), is a potential first-in-class, potent and highly selective AXL inhibitor, currently in a broad phase II clinical development programme. It is administered as an oral capsule and taken once per day. Ongoing clinical trials are investigating bemcentinib in COVID-19, and multiple solid and haematological tumours, in combination with current and emerging therapies (including immunotherapies, targeted therapies and chemotherapy), and as a single agent. Bemcentinib targets and binds to the intracellular catalytic kinase domain of AXL receptor tyrosine kinase and inhibits its activity.
About BerGenBio ASA
BerGenBio is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing transformative drugs targeting AXL as a potential cornerstone of therapy for aggressive diseases, including immune-evasive, therapy resistant cancers. The company’s proprietary lead candidate, bemcentinib, is a potentially first-in-class selective AXL inhibitor in a broad phase II clinical development programme focused on combination and single agent therapy in cancer, leukaemia and COVID-19. A first-in-class functional blocking anti-AXL antibody, tilvestamab, is undergoing phase I clinical testing. In parallel, BerGenBio is developing a companion diagnostic test to identify patient populations most likely to benefit from AXL inhibition: this is expected to facilitate more efficient registration trials supporting a precision medicine-based commercialisation strategy.
BerGenBio is based in Bergen, Norway with a subsidiary in Oxford, UK. The company is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange (ticker: BGBIO). For more information, visit www.bergenbio.com
Richard Godfrey CEO, BerGenBio ASA
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Forward looking statements
This announcement may contain forward-looking statements, which as such are not historical facts, but are based upon various assumptions, many of which are based, in turn, upon further assumptions. These assumptions are inherently subject to significant known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors. Such risks, uncertainties, contingencies and other important factors could cause actual events to differ materially from the expectations expressed or implied in this announcement by such forward-looking statements.