Technology ID

Combination of Near Infrared Photoimmunotherapy Targeting Cancer Cells and Host-Immune Activation

Lead Inventor
Kobayashi, Hisataka (NCI)
Choyke, Peter (NCI)
Therapeutic Areas
Development Stages
Pre-clinical (in vivo)
Lead IC

Common methods of cancer therapy largely rely on either direct killing of cancer cells or activation of the host immune response to do so, but not both. A recently developed treatment of tumors uses an antibody/photo-absorber, Ab-IR700, with near infrared photoimmunotherapy (NIR-PIT), to selectively kill IR700-bound and NIR-light-exposed cancer cells by activating an immunogenic cell death pathway. NIR-PIT has been shown in human clinical trials to effectively target tumor cells via a host immune response with relatively few side effects. However, the depth of NIR-light penetration in vivo limits its usefulness. To address this limitation, the patient’s immune response can be further leveraged to reach even distant cancer cells by combining NIR-PIT with already-approved anti-tumor immunomodulator therapies. This strategy has not yet been developed into treatment – but could provide a potentially more superior therapy that targets local deposits as well as metastases.

Investigators at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have developed a method that combines antibody-IR700/NIR-PIT therapy with already-approved antitumor agents. By combining these classes of therapies, the method targets both local and distant metastatic cancers and importantly, provides a powerful vaccine-like effect which prevents regrowth with minimal harm to normal cells. The method employs an immune system activator and/or an inhibitor of immune-suppressing cells, introduced simultaneously with or sequentially to antibody-IR700 molecules, after which the subject is treated with NIR-PIT. The method has been tested in mouse cancer models with various immunotherapies, where a total cure of local and distant cancers was exhibited in addition to successful immunization against cancer re-emergence. This novel combination of NIR-PIT with anticancer agents has tremendous potential as a highly efficacious therapeutic.

The scientists at NCI seek parties interested in licensing of and/or co-development collaboration on this cancer therapeutic strategy.

Competitive Advantages:

  • Capability to treat existing local and metastatic disease.
  • Potential to prevent new tumor formation. 
  • Could be a more effective combination therapy compared with those receiving immune-monotherapy, such as anti-PD-1

Commercial Applications:

  • Solid cancers. – including those ineffectively treated with anti-PD-1 agents.
Licensing Contact:
Clouse, Thomas