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Nanjing Leads the co-stimulatory charge

Despite recent setbacks with anti-PD-(L)1 x 4-1BB bispecific antibodies, Nanjing Leads Biolabs is pressing on with this mechanism. Last week the group got approval to start a single-arm pivotal trial of its contender LBL-024, designed to support approval in its home country of China. Nanjing Leads is set to present phase 1/2 data with LBL-024 at the upcoming ASCO meeting, which could give a better idea of its chances. ASCO will also feature a poster on Genmab and BioNTech's acasunlimab, the most advanced western PD-(L)1 x 4-1BB project, in second-line NSCLC. Genmab has been saying for some time that it expects to start phase 3 in this setting in 2024, something it confirmed last week during its first-quarter earnings presentation. However, the group has also admitted that monotherapy data with acasunlimab have been lacklustre, making a checkpoint inhibitor combo the most likely way forward – a curious approach give the overlapping mechanisms of action. Activating the 4-1BB co-stimulatory pathway is thought to enhance the antitumour effect of PD-(L)1 inhibition; while various other groups are also developing similarly acting bispecifics, some have fallen by the wayside this year including Inhibrx’s INBRX-105 and Numab Therapeutics’ NM21-1480.