By receiving a licensing agreement from the University of Zurich, Humanigen reinforces the treatment of graft-versus-host disease in leukemia patients

GM-CSF protein neutralization technology by the Swiss university was shown to mitigate graft-versus-host without stifling the constructive effects of leukemia treatment

Humanigen Inc. has a novel tool in its box for preventing graft-versus-host disease during the treatment of patients with leukemia & other blood cancers.

The California-based firm, Burlingame, made an announcement on Monday that the University of Zurich in Switzerland has given it an exclusive licensing agreement to utilize its GM-CSF protein neutralization technology.

The agreement will benefit the development of a treatment by Humanigen known as allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell therapy, which makes use of donor T cells for combating blood cancers in a process called graft-versus-leukemia.

The issue is that the donor cells have the tendency of destroying healthy tissues by the production of a protein GM-CSF, resulting in graft-versus-host disease, which kills nearly 50 percent of the patients who contract it.

This is where the neutralization technology of the University of Zurich comes into play. In the journal of Science Translational Medicine, the most recent article validated that negating the GM-CSF protein can result in cutting down of the harmful graft-versus-host while preserving the helpful graft-versus-leukemia.

The discovery sheds light on the significantly expanded Humanigen’s intellectual property portfolio in preventing graft-versus-host disease.

The Chief Executive Officer at Humanigen, Cameron Durrant stated that Humanigen has broken new ground of the strategy of neutralizing GM-CSF for the improvement of the safety, as well as, the efficacy of T cell therapies. This license agreement builds on their leadership position which is aimed at breaking the toxicity/efficacy barrier that exists at present for T cell therapies, inclusive of allogeneic HSCT.