Cancer research departments need to think beyond checkpoint inhibitors

Cancer immunotherapy research departments need to break their obsession with the latest flavour of the month – checkpoint inhibitors – and concentrate more on combining checkpoint inhibitors with APC activators, thinks Dr. Frederic Triebel, the founder of the French biotech Immutep and an expert in immuno-oncology.

Dr Triebel believes that whilst combining checkpoint inhibitors can be effective, their “auto-immune related side effects” – T-cells attacking the organs and even destroying the intestine – can cause too much damage to be a realistic long term treatment. However, combining a checkpoint inhibitor with an APC activator could have the desired effect of increasing the T-cell response without increasing the side-effects. It’s like pushing the gas pedal of your car (APC activator) after releasing the brake (checkpoint inhibitor), thinks Dr. Triebel – a winning combination.

Whilst there are other companies following this route, such as Roche, Dr. Triebel believes that more companies should be doing so, rather than combining checkpoint inhibitors. He believes an APC activator shows the most promising treatment so far for metastatic breast cancer when given to patients with a good immune status, entering first-line chemotherapy.

Frederic Triebel, Ph.D, MD, BIO, Biography

Dr Frédéric Triebel has been an expert at the forefront of immuno-oncology for 30 years. He is the founder of Immutep, a biopharmaceutical company specializing in immuno-oncology. He discovered the LAG-3 gene in 1990 while working at Institut Gustave Roussy (IGR), a large cancer centre in Paris. He has continued this research program since then, identifying the variety of functions and medical uses for the LAG-3 molecule.

He was involved in the initial protocols of IL-2, and has had major research successes throughout his career, including the first cloning of a variety of other human genes. He was Professor in Immunology and Biotechnology at Paris University. Dr. Triebel holds a Ph.D. in immunology (Paris University) and successfully developed several research programs in immunogenetics, leading to 142 publications and 16 patents.

Frederic was Elected Member of the Institut Universitaire de France, Paris, for his contribution to the understanding of the T cell repertoire in human tumours. He is also a member of the International Society for the Biological Treatment of Cancer.

He is an excellent spokesperson with a breadth and depth of experience earned from the coal face of immuno-oncology. He can give a very good helicopter view of the immuno-oncology sector, what will happen after checkpoint activators and the potential of APC activators.


Neil Hunter

Life Sciences Director

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