Researchers are feeling a renewed optimism in immunotherapy. There has recently been an explosion of scientific breakthroughs in cancer research and the mood has slightly shifted over the last few years. The Cancer Moonshot announced by President Obama in January 2016 helped to further increase feelings of progress. Obama’s effort focused on bringing great minds together, pushing cancer breakthroughs and fostering new therapies. The task itself is massive, however. 600,000 Americans a year are still dying from cancer and there is a long way to go, but the field has been rejuvenated by recent discoveries. In addition, the immune-oncology sector is growing and analysts at BioPharm Insight predict it could reach $35 billion in sales by 2020. One of the companies that is causing part of the buzz is Immunovaccine Inc. (IMV:CA)(IMMVF).
Currently, Immunovaccine and its lead immuno-oncology candidate DPX-Survivac cancer vaccine candidate, which is based on its DepoVax™ platform, are now conducting a Phase 2 clinical trial with the esteemed Princess Margaret Cancer Centre of the Toronto Hospital.
DPX-Survivac and the Fight Against Ovarian Cancer
Clinical investigators will test the safety and effectiveness of Immunovaccine’s DPX-Survivac cancer vaccine candidate in combination with Merck’s checkpoint inhibitor Pembrolizumab in patients with persistent, platinum-resistant ovarian cancer. Study participants will also receive metronomic cyclophosphamide, which is a low-dose regimen with immuno-modulating effects. “Ovarian cancer is a main focus for Immunovaccine as we continue to develop DPX-Survivac,” said Frederic Ors, Immunovaccine’s Chief Executive Officer. “Combination therapies — particularly those with anti-PD-1 activity — are emerging as increasingly promising approaches for hard-to-treat cancers. We believe that the robust immunogenic and safety clinical profile for DPX-Survivac, along with its unique complementary activity to anti-PD-1 agents, which may boost their response rates, position our immuno-oncology candidate as an optimal co-therapy in this disease area.” The Phase 2 trial will be non-randomized, open-label and will enroll 42 subjects.
The DPX- Survivac will target survivin, the smallest member of the Inhibitor of apoptosis family of proteins, present in more than 20 types of solid tumor and hematologic cancers.
How Immunovaccine and DepoVaxCould Revolutionize Immunotherapy
Immunovaccine’s DepoVax vaccine-adjuvanting platform is a patented vaccine delivery formulation that provides controlled and prolonged exposure of antigens adjuvant to the immune system. Its product pipeline includes DPX-Survivac (mentioned above)and DPX-RSV, which is in Phase I/Ib clinical trials for the treatment of respiratory diseases. Immunovaccine separates itself from other competitors and comparables because DepoVax™ is a unique oil-based platform.
Being oil-based, DepoVax does not wash away like many competitors that are water-based. DepoVax allows for a protected and sustained exposure—because it is encapsulated in a Liposome and suspended in oil—of antigens and adjuvants to the immune system. The oil is so crucial here because it traps antigens in the injection area forcing T-cells to come and attack the target area. DepoVax allows for a rapid immune system response with single-dose effectiveness and this level of strength at the injection location is necessary for cancer treatment.
The advantage of this strong delivery system allows it to be used in many different treatments. DepoVax currently has been used in partnerships to treat infectious diseases, bio-terrorism, addiction medicine and animal health. Immunovaccine holds the patent on the oil-based formulation, a very broad patent portfolio, which makes it extremely valuable and scalable from an economic standpoint.
“Our DepoVax platform has the potential to revolutionize immunotherapy in multiple areas, such as oncology and infectious diseases,” Ors said in an interview with BioTuesdays.com.Immunovaccine is an important company in the immuno-oncology space because they are treating cancer and other diseases like no one else has before.
“We have the ability to deliver multiple types of therapeutics to the site of cancer cells, including peptides, DNA and RNA, live vaccines and recombinant proteins,” he adds. “The result is a strong, specific and sustained immune response with the capability for single-dose effectiveness.”
This is a very exciting time for cancer research and Immunovaccine could be right in the middle of a market trending upward with a unique and important product.
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