Using our virus-based platforms, we calibrate our treatments to each cancer that we target. These viruses have been genetically engineered to minimize impact on healthy tissue, while maximizing the patient’s immune response to fight the tumor.

Our Viral Approach

Immunotherapy has transformed the way we treat cancer.

However, typically only 15 to 40% of patients overall respond to such treatment.

Poor response of the immune system to treatment is sustained by the ability of the tumor to disguise antigen presentation and to generate an immunosuppressive microenvironment.

At Candel, we have devised a multifactorial approach that consists of leveraging the ability of virus-based vectors to activate cancer-killing mechanisms, exposing multiple tumor antigens and inhibiting the immunosuppressive tumor microenviroment.

Our viral immunotherapy approach utilizes intratumoral administration of genetically engineered viruses to selectively induce tumor cell death and elicit an innate and adaptive anti-tumor immune response. Local delivery enables us to achieve these effects while aiming to minimize systemic toxicity.

The immune cells induced by these viral immunotherapies are believed to target patients’ specific tumor antigens, potentially improving responses in  immunologically “hot” tumors while at the same time infiltrating the tumor microenvironment, transforming non-inflamed “cold” tumors with limited immune response into “hot” tumors.


Clinically Advanced Solid Tumor Immunotherapy

CAN-2409 (international non-proprietary name: aglatimagene besadenovec) is an adenovirus-based replication deficient engineered gene construct encoding the thymidine kinase gene derived from the herpes simplex virus. It is injected directly into the tumor or target tissue. Localized injection is intended to minimize systemic toxicities associated with systemic intravenous administration, eliminating the requirement for complex immune evasion or tumor-specific targeting mechanisms, and focuses the immune response locally against the tumor, while also activating the desired systemic anti-tumoral response. The adenoviral construct is used as a vector to transport the thymidine kinase gene into the tumor cells at the site of injection. Thymidine kinase converts generic, FDA-approved anti-herpes drugs, such as ganciclovir, acyclovir and valacyclovir, which are used as prodrugs, into a toxic nucleotide analogue. These agents are widely available, inexpensive and are generally well-tolerated. Cells transduced with thymidine kinase gene undergo immunogenic cell death after exposure to these systemically administered prodrugs.

The prodrug-derived cytotoxic nucleotide analogs are designed to inhibit DNA replication and repair, leading to the death of multiplying tumor cells, and in particular of cells undergoing repair from radiation or chemotherapy damage. This oncolytic activity is immunogenic and exposes tumor antigens that can elicit a further tumor-specific immune response. Additionally, the virus itself stimulates a marked immune response.

Candel is evaluating the effects of treatment with CAN-2409 for prostate, brain, lung and pancreatic cancers in clinical trials. For more information on our studies in the clinic, please visit our Clinical Trials page.


Novel Herpes Simplex Viral Vector

CAN-3110 is a modified HSV with specific properties that can be leveraged in diverse clinical indications. Namely, CAN-3110:

■ Is engineered to provide oncolysis through tumor replication specifically in Nestin expressing cancer cells.

■ Has demonstrated statistically significant survival benefit in preclinical models of brain cancer

■ Has demonstrated a favorable tolerability profile, not reaching a dose limiting toxicity in the dose range tested in our Phase 1 trial.

■ Has shown a preliminary clinical signal in a difficult to treat brain cancer population, critically defined by a highly immunosuppressive environment.

■ Has been engineered to replicate in a range of other indications characterized by Nestin expression.

■ Is derived from the HSV platform that also provides the potential to support expansion of our pipeline with novel agents.

CAN-3110 is an engineered HSV where the expression of ICP34.5, the gene responsible for viral replication, has been placed under the control of a tumor-specific Nestin promoter. This modification of the viral genome enables us to maintain the function of ICP34.5, an HSV protein that allows virus replication even in the presence of a suppressive interferon response, under a strict control and only in tumor cells.

ICP34.5 is often deleted in other herpes simplex viruses that may be less tumor selective with an intent of achieving favorable safety profile, but this often results in weak viruses characterized by poor replication ability and an ability to generate limited immune response.

Nestin is a cytoskeletal protein that is overexpressed in glioma cells, but it is absent in the healthy adult brain. In CAN-3110, ICP34.5 expression is controlled by the Nestin promotor enabling viral replication selectively in tumor cells. This replication-competent HSV construct provides tumor-specific cytolytic activity in animal models, while sparing healthy cells.

Candel is evaluating the effects of treatment with CAN-3110 for recurrent glioblastoma. For more information on this clinical study, please visit our Clinical Trials page.

The enLIGHTEN™ Discovery Platform

The complexity of the tumor microenvironment and the diversity of the tumor response to existing treatments requires a multimodal and tailored approach to the discovery and development of new therapeutics. Candel Therapeutics’ enLIGHTEN™ Discovery Platform provides the first systematic, data-driven platform based on human biology to create new HSV-based gene constructs to modulate the tumor microenvironment in specific solid tumors by design. Built on our suite of proprietary HSV vectors and a bespoke data-driven approach for the selection of multi-gene viral payloads, the enLIGHTEN™ Discovery Platform is uniquely positioned to combine, in a single therapeutic, the tunable features of viral immunotherapies with personalized modulation of tumor biological properties.

Integrating immuno-oncology, advanced analytics, and vectorology, the enLIGHTEN™ Discovery Platform deconvolutes the complexity of the tumor microenvironment to identify druggable properties that correlate with clinical outcomes. These discoveries are translated into optimized multi-gene payloads of tumor modulators to create a novel class of viral immunotherapies that are tailored for specific indications, disease stage, and rationally designed therapeutic combinations.

© 2023 by Candel Therapeutics