mergerEli Lilly and Company and ImaginAb are pleased to announce a preclinical research collaboration to study potential novel T-cell-based immuno-oncology therapies.

Per the agreement, ImaginAb will conduct preclinical research using its immune imaging agent, IAB22M2C (a clinical anti-human CD8 probe), to detect T-cell trafficking, redirection and infiltration in response to Lilly’s oncology molecules. ImaginAb maintains full rights to its proprietary imaging agents used as part of the research project. Financial terms were not disclosed.

There is compelling research showing that pre-existing CD8-positive T-cells, also known as cytotoxic T-cells, are associated with favorable clinical response to anti-PD-1 therapy in melanoma. IAB22M2C is a PET-based imaging agent that detects CD8-positive T-cells and provides a whole-body picture of immune response, potentially enabling better patient selection and mechanistic understanding of immune-modulating treatments.

Lilly has a robust oncology pipeline that comprises several molecules that impact the immune system, in addition to numerous other agents directly targeting the tumour, its vasculature or the surrounding microenvironment. These agents are being tested in a wide range of cancers, including breast, colorectal, gastric, skin, bladder, brain, pancreatic, liver and lung cancer.

“This collaboration demonstrates Lilly’s commitment to advancing biomarker-driven cancer therapies,” noted Greg Plowman, MD, PhD, Vice President of oncology research at Lilly. “ImaginAb has developed a highly specific and novel approach for visualizing a patient’s immune response, and we are excited to explore applications of this technology as part of our immuno-oncology drug development efforts.”

“Selecting the proper patients for immunotherapy continues to be a major challenge for the new wave of cancer therapies coming to market,” said Roger Crystal, MD, Chief Business Officer for ImaginAb. “Same-day CD8 imaging holds tremendous potential in helping to guide treatment for cancer immunotherapies, and we look forward to pioneering this approach with Lilly.”