Immuno-oncology is a promising approach to treating cancer that exploits the body’s immune system to attack tumors.
Cancer cells are able to trick the body’s immune system into thinking they are normal cells, thus allowing the cancer cells to evade the immune system and continue to grow. There are many mechanisms by which cancer cells evade the immune system, and different immunotherapies address distinct interactions between cancer and the immune system.
At Agios, we believe that metabolic immuno-oncology – which involves modulating cellular metabolic pathways to enhance the immune system’s ability to attack tumors – has the potential to be an important therapeutic approach, both in combination and as a monotherapy. There is increasing evidence that cellular metabolism plays an important role in modulating key components of the immune system. Tumor cells deplete key nutrients that are required for activation of the immune system. In addition, tumors support the build-up of immunosuppressive metabolites surrounding the tumor, which will dampen the immune response and prevent the immune system from successfully attacking the tumor.
Metabolic immuno-oncology aims to modulate the activity of relevant immune cells by targeting critical metabolic enzymes, thereby enhancing the immune mediated anti-tumor response. Agios is exploiting its proprietary metabolomics technology and sophisticated target discovery and validation platform with the goal of unlocking the best novel targets in this field. We aim to identify patients who are most likely to respond to our metabolic therapies through the discovery of relevant patient stratification biomarkers, thereby converting immunotherapy into a precision medicine approach. Agios, in collaboration with Celgene, has started exploratory and early target validation for multiple programs.