Lycera’s most advanced program in cancer immunotherapy focuses on oral, selective RORγ agonists. The retinoic acid-related orphan receptor-gamma t (RORγt) is a nuclear receptor transcription factor that acts as a immune cell master control switch driving the generation and function of Th17 (helper T-cells) and Tc17 (cytotoxic) T cells. Lycera’s RORγ agonist, LYC-55716, combines multiple anti-tumor mechanisms into a single therapeutic by modulating gene expression to reprogram immune cells for improved function, as well as decrease immunosuppressive mechanisms. For instance, scientists at Lycera have demonstrated that RORγ agonists enhance cytokine production by both murine and human cells, T-effector to T-reg cell ratios and reduced PD-1 expression. When RORγ agonists are used in vivo, the integration of the mechanisms results in immune-dependent decreased tumor growth and enhanced survival in preclinical models of cancer. Essentially, Lycera’s RORγ agonist approach both “removes the brake” and “pushes on the accelerator” of immune function.

Based on the Company’s ground breaking research, Lycera initiated the ARGON trial (Trial of RORgamma Agonist LYC-55716 in Advanced Cancer) which is a Phase 1/2A study of LYC-55716 in patients with advanced, relapsed or refractory solid tumors. The initial Phase 1 portion of the study was designed to find the biologically active or maximum tolerated dose of LYC-55716.  The study utilized a 3+3 study design, in which LYC-55716 will be administered orally in subjects with relapsed or refractory solid tumors. The primary endpoints are safety and tolerability, and the study is designed to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and the recommended Phase 2 dose.

In October 2017, Lycera announced that LYC-55716 was advancing to Phase 2A development. The Phase 2a expansion is expected to enroll approximately 75 patients in 6 tumor cohorts.  The primary efficacy endpoint of the Phase 2A portion of the study will be objective response rate according to response evaluation criteria in solid tumors. The tumor cohorts were identified based on RORγ expression, biology and non -small cell lung cancer, squamous cell cancer of the head & neck, ovarian cancer, urothelial cancer, renal cancer, and gastric and esophageal cancer. The trial is expected to be fully enrolled by mid-2018.

Furthermore, ex vivo treatment of anti-tumor T cells with Lycera’s RORγ agonists improves the cancer-fighting ability of these cells and increased persistence of T cells able to produce more cytokines. Thus, this approach has high potential for substantially improving adoptive cell therapy approaches.


Novel Immuno Oncology Targets



Publications for RORγ Agonists

Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer 2017 (Poster): Prioritizing tumor types for treatment with a novel immunotherapy: LYC-55716 a small-molecule RORg agonist Xiao Hu, Xikui Liu, Hongxiu Li, Madhumita Bogdan, Yilin Gao, Brian Fox, H. Jeffrey Wilkins, Laura Carter

2017 European Society for Medical Oncology (Poster): A First-in-human, Open-label, Multicenter Phase 1/2a Study to Evaluate the Safety and Efficacy of Increased Repeated Doses of the First-in-class RORγ Agonist LYC-55716 in Treating Locally Advanced or Metastatic Solid Tumors. Devalingam Mahalingam, Marshall Schreeder, John Nemunaitis, Judy S. Wang, H. Jeffrey Wilkins, Erika P. Hamilton

2016 OncoImmunology (Manuscript): Synthetic RORγ agonists regulate multiple pathways to enhance anti-tumor immunity. Xiao Hu, Xikui Liu, Jacques Moisan, Yahong Wang, Charles A. Lesch, Chauncey Spooner, Rodney W. Morgan, Elizabeth M. Zawidzka, David Mertz, Dick Bousley, Kinga Majchrzak, Ilona Kryczek, Clarke Taylor, Chad Van Huis, Don Skalitzky, Alexander Hurd, Thomas D. Aicher, Peter L. Toogood, Gary D. Glick, Chrystal M. Paulos, Weiping Zou & Laura L. Carter

2016 American Association for Cancer Research (Poster): RORgamma Agonists Regulate Immune Checkpoint Receptors to Enhance anti-Tumor Immunity. Xiao Hu, Xikui Liu, Jacques Moisan, Chrystal Paulos, Yahong Wang, Chauncey Spooner, Charles Lesch, Rodney Morgan, David Mertz, Dick Bousley, Clarke Taylor, Chad Van Huis, Don Skalitzky, Thomas Aicher, Peter Toogood, Laura Carter

Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer 2015 (Poster): RORγ Agonists Enhance Survival and Memory of Type 17 T Cells and Improve Anti-tumor Activity. Xiao Hu, Jacques Moisan, Kinga Majchrzak, Chuck Lesch, Yahong Wang, Brian Sanchez, Xikui Liu, Rodney Morgan, David Mertz, Dick Bousley, Chad Van Huis, Don Skalitzky, Clarke Taylor, Thomas Aicher, Peter Toogood, WeipingZou, Gary Glick, Chrystal Paulos, Laura Carter

2015 Novel American Association of Immunologists – Oral Presentation and Poster Presentation. RORγ Agonists Enhance Anti-Tumor Activity of Adoptive T Cell Therapy. Jacques Moisan, Kinga Majchrzak, Xia Hu, Rodney W Morgan, Xikui Liu, Kellie M Demock, Yahong Wang, Chuck A Lesch, Brian M Sanchez, Dick Bousley, Clarke B Taylor, Chad A Van Huis, Don J Skalitzky, Tom D Aicher, Peter L Toogood, Weiping Zou, Gary D Glick, Chrystal M Paulos, Laura L Carter

2015 American Association for Cancer Research – Poster Presentation. RORγ Agonists as a Novel Immunotherapy Approach for Cancer. Xiao Hu, Jacques Moisan, Charles Lesch, Yahong Wang, Xikui Liu, Rodney Morgan, David Mertz, Brian Sanchez, Dick Bousley, Clark Taylor, Chad van Huis, Don Skalitzky, Thomas Aicher, Peter Toogood, Weiping Zou, Gary Glick, Laura Carter

2015 Keystone Symposia Conference – Tumor Immunology (Poster). Novel oral RORγ agonists demonstrate anti-tumor efficacy in the 4T1 breast cancer model. Jacques Moisan, Xiao Hu, Rod Morgan, Xikui Liu, Kellie Demock, Yahong Wang, Chuck Lesch, Brian Sanchez, Dick Bousley, Clarke Taylor, Chad Van Huis, Don Skalitzky, Tom Aicher, Peter Toogood, Weiping Zou, Gary Glick, Laura Carter

Nature Chemical Biology 2015. Sterol metabolism controls Th17 differentiation by generating endogenous RORγ agonists. Xiao Hu, Yahong Wang, Ling-Yang Hao, Xikui Liu, Chuck A. Lesch, Brian M. Sanchez, Jay M. Wendling, Rodney W. Morgan, Tom D. Aicher, Laura L. Carter, Peter L. Toogood and Gary D. Glick

Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer 2014 (Poster). Novel synthetic RORγ agonist compounds as a potential anti-tumor therapeutic approach. Xiao Hu, Xikui Liu, Rod Morgan, Jacques Moisan, Ling-Yang Hao, Yahong Wang, Brian Sanchez, Charles Lesch, Dick Bousley, Clark Taylor, Chad van Huis, Thomas D. Aicher, Peter Toogood, Weiping Zou, Gary Glick, Laura Carter


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