Future watch

Collaboration to develop cancer immunotherapy

December 19, 2019

Vaccitech Ltd announced today that its strategic collaboration with the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (Ludwig), Vaccitech Oncology Limited (VOLT), has entered into a clinical partnership with Cancer Research UK to develop VOLT’s VTP-600 immunotherapy as a treatment option for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

VTP-600 is a cancer immunotherapy comprised of Vaccitech’s proprietary heterologous prime-boost T cell induction platform; ChAdOx1 and Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA). The two viral vectors are engineered to express the tumour-associated antigens MAGE-A3 and NY-ESO-1, previously discovered and clinically validated by Ludwig. MAGE-A3 and NY-ESO-1 are aberrantly expressed by tumour cells and elicit strong immune responses. The VTP-600 therapeutic vaccine is administered intramuscularly and designed to stimulate the immune system to produce sustained cytotoxic CD8+ T cells specific for cancers that highly express the antigens, which include NSCLC. To maximise therapeutic benefit, VTP-600 can be administered selectively to patients whose tumours express MAGE-A3 alone, and those which also express NY-ESO-1. This novel design may help boost an optimal, highly specific, anti-tumour immune response to destroy cancer cells.

Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development (CDD) will sponsor and manage a Phase I/IIa clinical trial of VTP-600 in combination with current standard of care and first-line treatment (chemotherapy and anti-PD-1) in approximately 80 patients with NSCLC. The trial is anticipated to begin in Q4 2020 across multiple clinical sites in the UK. VOLT holds an option to licence the results of the trial in order to undertake further clinical development and commercialisation of VTP-600.

Vaccitech’s CEO, Bill Enright, said:

“We are delighted to enter into a clinical development partnership with two of the world’s most prestigious cancer research institutions. We believe that this partnership is an important validation of our prime boost platform’s utility in oncology as well as infectious disease.”

Jonathan Skipper, Executive Vice President for Technology Development, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, commented:

“Previous clinical trials of experimental cancer vaccines targeting MAGE and NY-ESO antigens have demonstrated that these antigens are highly specific to cancer and capable of eliciting strong immune responses. We believe that Vaccitech’s highly effective T cell induction platform should provide a potent immunotherapeutic that, in combination with checkpoint blockade, is capable of inducing sustained levels of cancer antigen-specific CD8+ T cells and the desired therapeutic effect in patients.”

Dr Nigel Blackburn, Cancer Research UK’s director of drug development, said:

“This partnership with VOLT is an important step to help accelerate this promising immunotherapy and could help more people survive lung cancer, which remains very hard to treat. This novel approach using a modified adenovirus to prime the immune system and alert it to the presence of cancer cells could offer a completely new way to treat the disease.”

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by Editor