Cannabinoid-based therapeutic for restoring immune recognition

Advanced cancers typically become invisible to the immune system, thus allowing them to evade elimination. PAS-393 is a cannabinoid designed to restore the immunogenicity of tumor cells, thus rendering these cells once again susceptible to recognition and destruction by the immune system. The ability to reactivate the interaction between immune cells and cancer cells has tremendous potential in the field of immuno-oncology.

Checkpoint inhibitors are recently-approved drugs that activate the immune system to kill tumor cells. These drugs, which block immune-inhibitory signals produced by some cancers, depend upon a robust interaction between cytolytic T cells and immunosurveillance signals on tumor cells.  Without this strong initial T cell-tumor cell interaction, a checkpoint inhibitor has no initial immune response to activate.  This observation may help explain why checkpoint inhibitors, although very effective in a subset of cancer patients, offer no benefit for 60% or more of patients, whose tumors may have lost the immune recognition markers.

By reestablishing a robust interaction between cytolytic T cells and tumor cells, PAS-393 restores the critical prerequisite for effective checkpoint inhibitor activity.  Therefore, these compounds have the potential to dramatically increase the number of patients that benefit from state-of-the-art immuno-oncology therapeutics.