Immuno-oncology Screening Libraries

Historically, four main types of cancer treatment were used: surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy/targeted therapy. In the past decade, immuno-oncology has emerged as an innovative and important approach to battle cancer by stimulating the body's immune system to kill cancer cells. Through the challenges associated with improving existing immunotherapies and developing new ones, a deeper understanding of the mechanisms underlying anti-cancer immunity has emerged, as well as the "defects" behind the absence of effective anti-cancer immunity in cancer patients.

The Life Chemicals Immuno-oncology Screening Libraries provide a genuine multi-tool for research and early drug discovery in this emerging area of cancer therapeutics. Collected in these proprietary Screening Sets have been over 3,700 small-molecule screening compounds focused against a list of established and emerging immuno-oncology targets:

  • Tryptophan-2,3-dioxygenase (TDO)
  • CD73 (ecto 5'-nucleotidase)
  • Arginase-1
  • Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1)
  • eIF-2-alpha kinase (GCN2)
  • Nitric oxide synthase

The compound selection can be customized based on your requirements, cherry picking is available.

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Ipilimumab, an immune checkpoint inhibitor approved in 2011, has revolutionized cancer immunotherapy. A total of 11 immune checkpoint inhibitors and 2 chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) products have been approved for the treatment of 16 types of malignant diseases and 1 tissue-agnostic indication (Fig. 1). As part of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, half of the prize went to James Allison, who brought cancer immunotherapy to another level by targeting Cytotoxic T Lymphocyte-Associated Protein 4 (CTLA-4). Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) were developed as a result of this conceptual breakthrough. A co-Nobel Prize winner, Tasuko Honjo, has shown that activation-induced cell death in lymphocytes involves the Programmed Cell Death Protein 1 (PD-1). Immuno-oncology agents are rapidly transforming the standard of care for people with cancer, but there are still a number of challenges to overcome in immunotherapy drug development in terms of managing their toxicities and making sure healthcare systems can afford the high costs of these therapies.

Figure 1. Comparison of immuno-oncology pipelines in 2017 versus 2020 (233% growth in 3 years). Source: Article on Immuno-Oncology Landscape

Compound selection

The docking-based virtual screening technique has been used to evaluate each molecule from Life Chemicals HTS Compound Collection against the corresponding binding site of each target, using available X-ray data (Fig. 2). The Libraries contain only those drug-like screening compounds (the Lipinski’s Rule of Five compliant) that are potential immuno-oncology target modulators. PAINS, and compounds containing toxic and reactive groups were filtered out.




# of cmpds

Tryptophan-2,3-dioxygenase (TDO)

TDO is predominantly expressed in the liver, being responsible for regulation of systemic tryptophan concentrations and hepatic kynurenine concentrations. Abnormal TDO expression profiles have been observed in several cancers and are inversely correlated with overall survival rates



CD73 (ecto 5'-nucleotidase)

CD73 is overexpressed in many cancers, resulting in elevated levels of immunosuppressive adenosine (ADO) that correspond to poor patient prognosis. Therefore, reducing the level of ADO via inhibition of CD73 is a potential strategy for treating cancers




Arginase-1 is a manganese-dependent metalloenzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis of L-arginine into L-ornithine and urea. Arginase-1 is abundantly expressed by tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells that promote tumor immunosuppression, which is relieved by inhibition of Arginase-1



Nitric oxide synthase

Nitric oxide synthase (NOS) enzymes synthesize nitric oxide, a signal for vasodilatation and neurotransmission at low concentrations and a defensive cytotoxin at higher concentrations. Expression of NOS has been detected in various cancers such as cervical, breast, central nervous system, laryngeal, and head and neck cancers



Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1)

Indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1) is a heme-containing enzyme, which catalyzes the first and rate-limiting step of tryptophan catabolism (kynurenine pathway). In the tumor microenvironment, the kynurenine pathway can be hijacked as a mechanism of immune escape. IDO1 over- or induced- expression is often associated with poor prognosis in a variety of cancer types



eIF-2-alpha kinase (GCN2)

GCN2 is a master regulator kinase of amino acid homeostasis and important for cancer survival in the tumor microenvironment under amino acid depletion.



An example of protein-ligand complexes obtained with docking. A: Nitric oxide synthase (3E7G) with compound F6548-406. B: eIF-2-alpha kinase (6N3N) with compound F2210-0128.

Figure 2. An example of protein-ligand complexes obtained with docking. A: Nitric oxide synthase (3E7G) with compound F6548-406. B: eIF-2-alpha kinase (6N3N) with compound F2210-0128.


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