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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

“Compugen Target for Cancer Immunotherapy Shown to Affect Multiple Immune Cell Types Involved in Tumor Progression”: CGEN's "Reply" to Cramer?

I don’t provide stock market advice, but did you happen to see Jim Cramer’s manic 50-second “take” on Compugen last Friday (see: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000199050&__source=yahoo%7Cheadline%7Cquote%7Cvideo%7C&par=yahoo)? This stock market maven forgot to mention the total of nine novel immune checkpoint proteins predicted by the Company to date through the use of its unique predictive discovery infrastructure, although he did refer to the recent deal with Bayer involving only two of them.

Cramer also didn’t say that Compugen is currently using its predictive capabilities as part of a second focused discovery program for antibody drug conjugate cancer therapy. In addition, Cramer failed to note that in July, Compugen announced a new Predictive Structural Biology Infrastructure Platform for enhanced discovery of novel drugs.

Mind you, the key word in all of the above is “predictive.”

Unbeknownst to Cramer, Compugen, over the course of the past decade, has created a predictive capability for the development of new drugs and diagnostics that is cutting-edge, world-leading and disruptive.

Of course, I can’t fault Cramer. He is busy with the graphs, trading patterns and day to day movements of hundreds of public companies. Compugen, on the other hand, is merely seeking to change the way that medicines are discovered for unmet medical needs. Ultimately, I believe that Cramer will necessarily become better acquainted with Compugen, which is something of a rara avis and deserving of more than a cursory “technical” stock market review.

Regarding Compugen’s press release yesterday, “Compugen Target for Cancer Immunotherapy Shown to Affect Multiple Immune Cell Types Involved in Tumor Progression” (see: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/compugen-target-cancer-immunotherapy-shown-122200238.html), the Company announced experimental results for a third Compugen-discovered checkpoint, CGEN-15049 (my highlights in red):

CGEN-15049 has demonstrated the ability to regulate an impressive array of different types of immune cells, therefore offering unique potential as a target for monoclonal antibody immunotherapy for many types of cancers and further contributing to the diversity of Compugen's Pipeline Program candidates. More specifically, in vitro studies have shown that CGEN-15049 both inhibits Natural Killer cells, which are important for innate immune responses, and modulates the activity of types of T cells that constitute a crucial component of the adaptive anti-tumor immune response. In this respect, CGEN-15049 inhibits cytotoxic T lymphocytes, which normally act to recognize and kill tumor cells, and promotes inducible regulatory T cells, which play a central role in creating the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment that reduce the ability of the immune system to fight the tumor.

In addition to its functional effect on multiple types of immune cells, CGEN-15049 is also expressed on a wide variety of cancers with high clinical unmet need, such as lung, ovarian, breast, colorectal, gastric, prostate and liver cancers. Notably, its expression can be detected both within the tumor epithelium of the cancers as well as on immune cells infiltrating these cancers. This expression pattern within the tumor microenvironment, combined with its immunomodulatory activity on immune cells involved in tumor progression, suggest a role for CGEN-15049 in suppressing anti-tumor immune response. Therefore, inhibition of CGEN-15049 activity by monoclonal antibody therapy, in certain cancer types, is predicted to result in allowing the activation of an anti-tumor immune response and potentially eliminating the tumor itself.”

Compugen’s CEO, Anat Cohen-Dayag, further explained in the press release:

“A novel immune checkpoint protein offers the potential for development of multiple therapeutic products for both immunology and oncology, depending on its mode of action and function. Also, it is believed that different checkpoints are likely to be expressed on different cancers and within a specific type of cancer, in different patient populations. Therefore, identifying multiple cancer-associated immune checkpoints is of significant interest in allowing for the treatment of larger patient populations.”

Yes, there is reason to be excited by Compugen’s predictive immune checkpoint discoveries, providing a growing arsenal of potential weapons, which can be "mixed and matched" in the war against cancer.

Regarding Compugen, Cramer recommended that investors "wait for more partnerships and perhaps some success in the pipeline." Again, I do not provide stock market advice, but I would certainly regard yesterday's announcement by Compugen as "success in the pipeline." "More partnerships"? Let's see how long it takes Compugen to license out CGEN-15049, given Big Pharma's ravenous appetite for immune checkpoints.

But more to the point, I would suggest that Cramer is missing the bigger picture: The in silico (by computer) prediction and discovery by Compugen of its nine novel immune checkpoint proteins required only months as opposed to decades of worldwide research needed to find the limited number of previously known immune checkpoints (see slides 11 and 15 of Compugen's current corporate presentation available via its website).

You see, Compugen is not about any one candidate in its pipeline. Rather, it is the Company's predictive science, poised to have a far-reaching impact on the future of medicine, which deserves our attention.

[As noted in prior blog entries, I am a Compugen shareholder, this blog entry is not a recommendation to buy or sell Compugen shares, and in September 2009 I began work as a part-time external consultant to Compugen. The opinions expressed herein are mine and are based on publicly available information. This blog entry has not been authorized, approved or reviewed prior to posting by Compugen.]

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