ImMucin, the immunotherapy developed by cancer specialist Vaxil Bio Ltd (TSX-V:VXL), has been featured alongside some of the world’s top medical institutions in a special TV episode showcasing promising myeloma treatments.
Vaxil was selected for its innovative immunotherapy, which was highlighted alongside renowned medical institutions including the Mayo Clinic, MD Anderson, Sloan Kettering, and Johns Hopkins.
The feature was presented by Myeloma Crowd, the go-to resource center featuring developments in the fight against myeloma, a type of cancer that arises when plasma cells – white blood cells that form part of the body’s immune system – mutate abnormally.
The episode, available on Myeloma Crowd TV (MCTV), presented a piece on Vaxil’s Phase-I/II clinical trial, which was conducted in Israel’s top hospitals and published in the British Journal of Haematology (BJH). It focused on the signal peptide domain within the MUC1 cancer target., thought to be a more targeted approach to attacking MUC1, which is a well known antigen found on about 70% of myeloma cells but not on normal cells.
Vaxil Interviewed on Myeloma Crowd TV Episode #2
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Vaxil’s ImMucin appears to have overcome a major drawback of using a vaccine to target a specific protein, namely that in many instances the vaccine has to be customized to the patient’s human leukocyte antigens (HLA), a system of genes unique to a person, which means a “silver bullet” solution for all is not possible.
“In the past, it was very difficult to induce immunity against tumor cells, with a very specific protein; we had to make a specific protein per type of HLA,” explained Vaxil’s Professor Michael Shapira.
ImMucin has been granted orphan drug status by both the US Food And Drug Administration and the European Medicine Agency, a status designed to encourage pharmaceutical companies to develop cures or treatments for rare diseases.
Vaxil founder Dr Lior Carmon said the recognition from the regulators served to both validate and enhance the company’s science.
ImMucin is a treatment that educates a cancer patient’s immune system to attack cancer cells via a specified domain, termed a signal peptide, of the MUC1 cancer antigen – an antigen being any substance that causes your immune system to produce antibodies. The MUC1 protein is often over-abundant in a diverse range of carcinomas – types of cancer that develop in the cells (epithelial cells) that line the surface of the body – and evidence of MUC1 is often an indication of several types of cancer, such as breast, lung, prostate and colon.
Patients in Vaxil’s trial were treated solely with the Immucin vaccine, as opposed to other cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation, and all patients responded to the treatment, Professor Shapira told MCTV.
The professor confessed to being “astonished” that all patients developed specific immunity. Dr Carmon, meanwhile, drove home the significance of the test results, noting: “Importantly, in selected patients, a significant reduction in the percentage of plasma cells post [treatment] versus pre-treatment with ImMucin was observed.”
MCTV’s Jenny Ahlstrom, a myeloma survivor herself, opined that a maintenance program involving visiting a walk-in clinic for periodic shots of ImMucin, which exhibits few side-effects and which does not hamper the body’s own immune system, “sounds pretty appealing to patients”.
MCTV’s myeloma vaccine feature is accessible here.
It’s hard to overstate how hot immunotherapy is right now
Harnessing the body’s immune system to fight cancers – immuno-oncology in medical jargon – has been on the rapid rise recently.
Some major success stories have shown immunotherapies to be a far more targeted avenue for treating cancer, and as one article put it, “It’s hard to overstate how hot immunotherapy is right now.”
Just this month, billionaire Silicon Valley veteran Sean Parker, made international headlines when he announced a US$250mln donation in support of immunotherapy research. Parker, who founded the peer-to-peer music file sharing network Napster and who was once president of social media giant Facebook, has created six major immunotherapy centers as a part of the “Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy”, and will include more than 40 laboratories employing in excess of 300 researchers.
According to Parker’s web site, the money will be used to form “an Immunology Research Dream Team dedicated to cancer immunology”. Interestingly, hospitals featured alongside Vaxil on MCTV, will be recipients of Parker’s donation, including Memorial Sloan Kettering and MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Vaxil focused on ImMucin’s most important test yet
As for Vaxil, it recently listed on the TSX-Venture with the ticker symbol VXL. The company is now focused on its major upcoming Phase-II clinical trial, ImMucin’s most important test yet.
“Our next clinical trial, a robust Phase-II, has potential to catapult our company is set to include patients with very good partial response, and MRD [minimal residual disease] positive post-first line of therapy, and we hope it will drive us into a pivotal phase III [trial], possibly with a big pharma partner,” Dr Carmon revealed.
Full Myeloma Crowd Episode Link: http://www.myelomacrowd.org/mctv-myeloma-vaccines/#prettyPhoto