AVE1642 is a “naked” antibody that binds insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1R). It is currently evaluated in a phase I clinical trial that started in October of last year. Interestingly, this antibody is not attached to a drug payload, and is most likely intended to be used in combination with chemotherapy.
IGF-1R is postulated to be a very important target in several types of cancers such as colorectal, lung and breast cancers. This receptor has been shown to contribute to the development and progression of tumors, as its activation triggers a cascade of signals ultimately leading to survival and proliferation. An antibody targeted at IGF-1R may serve as an anticancer agent by preventing the growth factors from binding the receptor or by inducing an immune response against cells that express IGF-1R. IGF-1R is also expressed by normal cells, including blood vessels, which offers an explanation to why Sanofi-Aventis decided not to arm AVE1642 with a deadly payload. This is a good example for cases where ADCs cannot be used, because they will probably lead to unbearable side effects.
Since targeting IGF-1R by monoclonal antibodies seems very promising, several other companies, including Pfizer (PFE) and Imclone (IMCL) are actively pursuing this pathway. Both companies have already published results from phase I clinical trials, showing some clinical activity and a very good safety profile, which makes Sanofi Aventis a little late to the party, but eventually, demonstrating clinical activity is the top priority for AVE1642.
Author is long IMGN