Bergen, Norway, 11 May 2021 - BerGenBio ASA (OSE:BGBIO), a clinical-stage
biopharmaceutical company developing novel, selective AXL kinase inhibitors for
severe unmet medical need, is pleased to announce that pre-clinical COVID-19
data has been presented at Virtual Immunology 2021, which is taking place from
10-15 May 2021.
The poster presentation illustrates findings from a pre-clinical study conducted
by BerGenBio's scientific collaborator Professor Wendy Maury, Professor of
Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Iowa. Data from the
study provides evidence that SARS-CoV-2 utilizes phosphatidylserine (PS)
receptors (TIM1 and AXL) as a key pathway for virus entry and that inhibition of
AXL signalling by BerGenBio's selective inhibitor bemcentinib reduces infection.
Reduced viral infection was also observed in a complementary data set following
AXL knockout in epithelial cells, further providing evidence of the important
role AXL plays in SARS-CoV-2 viral entry. As expected, bemcentinibŽs anti-viral
efficacy ceased following AXL knockout, indicating its target specificity. In
conclusion, PS receptors enhance SARS-CoV-2 infection and inhibition of AXL is a
potentially promising therapeutic target for COVID-19.
Full poster presentation details are below. The author, Dana Bohan, will receive
a 2021 AAI Late Breaking Poster Award for the abstract, which was deemed to be
exceptional by the Virtual Immunology 2021 reviewers.
Title: Phosphatidylserine Receptors Enhancement of SARS-CoV-2 Entry: AXL as a
Therapeutic Target for COVID-19
Date: Monday, 10 May 2021
Time: 6:30-8:00pm ET
The poster presentation will be made available at BerGenBio's website
AXL kinase is a cell membrane receptor and an essential mediator of the
biological mechanisms underlying life-threatening diseases.
In COVID-19, AXL has two synergistic mechanisms of action: acting as a co
-receptor to ACE2 and promoting viral entry into the host cell. Further, AXL
upregulation and activation leads to suppression of the Type 1 Interferon immune
response by host cells and in their environment. Research data confirms that
bemcentinib inhibits SARS-CoV-2 host cell entry and promotes the anti-viral Type
I interferon response.
In cancer, increase in AXL expression has been linked to key mechanisms of drug
resistance and immune escape by tumour cells, leading to aggressive metastatic
cancers. AXL suppresses the body's immune response to tumours and drives
treatment failure across many cancers. High AXL expression defines a poor
prognosis subgroup in most cancers. AXL inhibitors, such as bemcentinib,
therefore, have potential high value as monotherapy and as the cornerstone of
cancer combination therapy, addressing significant unmet medical needs and
multiple high-value market opportunities.
Research has also shown that AXL mediates other aggressive diseases including
Bemcentinib (formerly known as BGB324), is a potential first-in-class, potent
and highly selective AXL inhibitor, currently in a broad phase II clinical
development programme. It is administered as an oral capsule and taken once per
day. Ongoing clinical trials are investigating bemcentinib in COVID-19, and
multiple solid and haematological tumours, in combination with current and
emerging therapies (including immunotherapies, targeted therapies and
chemotherapy), and as a single agent. Bemcentinib targets and binds to the
intracellular catalytic kinase domain of AXL receptor tyrosine kinase and
inhibits its activity.
About BerGenBio ASA
BerGenBio is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing
transformative drugs targeting AXL as a potential cornerstone of therapy for
aggressive diseases, including immune-evasive, therapy resistant cancers. The
company's proprietary lead candidate, bemcentinib, is a potentially first-in
-class selective AXL inhibitor in a broad phase II clinical development
programme focused on combination and single agent therapy in cancer, leukaemia
and COVID-19. A first-in-class functional blocking anti-AXL
antibody, tilvestamab, is undergoing phase I clinical testing. In
parallel, BerGenBio is developing a companion diagnostic test to identify
patient populations most likely to benefit from AXL inhibition: this is expected
to facilitate more efficient registration trials supporting a precision medicine
-based commercialisation strategy.
BerGenBio is based in Bergen, Norway with a subsidiary in Oxford, UK. The
company is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange (ticker: BGBIO). For more
Richard Godfrey CEO, BerGenBio ASA
Rune Skeie, CFO, BerGenBio ASA
+47 917 86 513
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Forward looking statements
This announcement may contain forward-looking statements, which as such are not
historical facts, but are based upon various assumptions, many of which are
based, in turn, upon further assumptions. These assumptions are inherently
subject to significant known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other
important factors. Such risks, uncertainties, contingencies and other important
factors could cause actual events to differ materially from the expectations
expressed or implied in this announcement by such forward-looking statements.
This information is subject to the disclosure requirements pursuant to section 5
-12 of the Norwegian Securities Trading Act.