Designation Creates Potential to Bring Important New Therapy to Patients Earlier
SQZ Biotechnologies (NYSE: SQZ), focused on unlocking the full potential of cell therapies for multiple therapeutic areas, today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Fast Track Designation for the company’s lead cell therapy candidate, SQZ-PBMC-HPV, for the treatment of HPV16+ advanced or metastatic solid tumors.
Fast Track Designation is designed to accelerate the development and review of treatments for serious and life-threatening diseases where no treatment currently exists or where the treatment in discovery may be better than what is currently available.
“We are thrilled to receive FDA Fast Track Designation for our SQZ® Antigen Presenting Cells product candidate,” said Armon Sharei, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer and Founder at SQZ Biotechnologies. “This designation adds to our exciting clinical data presented at ESMO-IO last year where we first demonstrated the potential of our Cell Squeeze® technology to drive clinical benefit while maintaining favorable tolerability. The FDA Fast Track program can potentially expedite future review processes and accelerate the registrational path for SQZ-PBMC-HPV.”
Data presented at the ESMO Immuno-Oncology Congress 2021 has shown that the company’s lead APC cell therapy candidate induced radiographic, symptomatic and immune response as monotherapy in a post-checkpoint HPV16+ solid tumor patient. The company continues to enroll patients in its highest dose monotherapy cohort and is simultaneously enrolling patients for combination therapy in the company’s Phase 1/2 SQZ-PBMC-HPV-101 clinical trial.
SQZ-PBMC-HPV-101 Trial Design
SQZ-PBMC-HPV is being evaluated in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial for the treatment of HPV16+ advanced or metastatic solid tumors. Patients must be positive for the human leukocyte antigen serotype HLA-A*02. The investigational candidate, which targets E6 and E7 oncoproteins, is being studied as a monotherapy and in combination with immuno-oncology agents. The study’s primary outcome measures in the monotherapy and combination phases of the trial include safety and tolerability. Antitumor activity is a secondary outcome measure in both the monotherapy and combination stages of the trial, and manufacturing feasibility is a secondary outcome measure in the monotherapy phase of the trial. The monotherapy phase of the study includes escalating dose cohorts with a dose-limiting toxicity (DLT) window of 28 days and is designed to identify a recommended phase 2 dose. The planned combination phase of the study will include SQZ-PBMC-HPV and checkpoint inhibitors. DLT will be measured over 42 days.
About Human Papillomavirus Positive Cancers
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common viruses worldwide and certain strains persist for many years, often leading to cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in the United States HPV+ tumors represent 3% of all cancers in women and 2% of all cancers in men, resulting in over 39,000 new cases of HPV+ tumors every year. HPV infection is larger outside of the U.S., and according to the International Journal of Cancer, HPV+ tumors account for 4.5% of all cancers worldwide resulting in approximately 630,000 new cases every year. According to the CDC, HPV infection plays a significant role in the formation of more than 90% of anal and cervical cancers, and most cases of vaginal (75%), oropharyngeal (70%), vulval (70%) and penile (60%) cancers.
About SQZ Biotechnologies
SQZ Biotechnologies Company is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on unlocking the full potential of cell therapies for patients around the world and has active programs in oncology, autoimmune and infectious diseases, as well as additional exploratory initiatives to support future pipeline growth. The company’s proprietary Cell Squeeze® technology offers the unique ability to deliver multiple biological materials into many cell types to engineer what we believe can be a broad range of potential therapeutics. With demonstrated production timelines under 24 hours and the opportunity to eliminate preconditioning and lengthy hospital stays, our approach could significantly broaden the therapeutic range and accessibility of cell therapies. The company’s first therapeutic applications seek to generate target-specific immune responses, both in activation for the treatment of solid tumors and infectious diseases, and in immune tolerance for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. For more information, please visit www.sqzbiotech.com.
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements contained that do not relate to matters of historical fact should be considered forward-looking statements, including without limitation statements relating to regulatory designations, events and presentations, platform development, product candidates, preclinical and clinical activities, progress and outcomes, development plans, manufacturing, clinical safety and efficacy results, therapeutic potential, market opportunities and disease prevalence. These forward-looking statements are based on management's current expectations. Actual results could differ from those projected in any forward-looking statements due to several risk factors. Such factors include, among others, risks and uncertainties related to our limited operating history; our significant losses incurred since inception and expectation to incur significant additional losses for the foreseeable future; the development of our initial product candidates, upon which our business is highly dependent; the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our operations and clinical activities; our need for additional funding and our cash runway; the lengthy, expensive, and uncertain process of clinical drug development, including uncertain outcomes of clinical trials and potential delays in regulatory approval; our ability to maintain our relationships with our third party vendors and strategic collaborators; and protection of our proprietary technology, intellectual property portfolio and the confidentiality of our trade secrets. These and other important factors discussed under the caption "Risk Factors" in our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and other filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the forward-looking statements. Any forward-looking statements represent management's estimates as of this date and we undertake no duty to update these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, the occurrence of current events, or otherwise, unless required by law.
Certain information contained in this press release relates to or is based on studies, publications, surveys and other data obtained from third-party sources and our own internal estimates and research. While we believe these third-party sources to be reliable as of the date of this press release, we have not independently verified, and we make no representation as to the adequacy, fairness, accuracy or completeness of any information obtained from third-party sources.