Oslo Cancer Cluster member Vaccibody is making headway with their cancer vaccine technology. Now they are ready with clinical trials involving 40 patients in Germany, the first patient is already enrolled.
Neoantigens Reveals Cancer Cells
Cancer is famous for its ability to deceive, appearing to the immune system as normal tissue while wreaking havoc on the body. But what if cancer cells could be revealed with subtle but unmistakable characteristics that revealed their true nature?
This revealing clue exists and is called neoantigens, which are mutated (or changed/altered) proteins found only in cancer cells. This is the science behind what Vaccibody and Agnete Fredriksen is currently doing, working to develop vaccines that use neoantigens to help patients’ own immune systems recognize and fight cancer tumors.
— I dare to say that this is quite unique. Each vaccine is thoroughly customized for each individual cancer patient. One vaccine per patient! What we do is conduct biopsies and blood tests to reveal each patient’s unique set of neoantigens and with our technology we have the ability to create a potent individualized vaccine in a relatively short time at reasonable cost, says Agnete B. Fredriksen, President and Chief Scientific Officer at Vaccibody.
Extra Effective With Checkpoint Inhibition
The Vaccibody researchers analyze individual tumor genomes and the patients’ immune systems to select an optimal mix of neoantigens.
— We can do that in a few days because of modern technology. Then we monitor and record the changes we think the immune system will react to and include them in the personalized vaccine. The neoantigen technology is then combined with so called checkpoint inhibitor therapy, which stops tumors from suppressing immune-system activity — to make the vaccine extra effective.
With this personalized medicine approach, each patient receives a unique DNA vaccine, in combination with standard of care checkpoint inhibitor therapy.
Clinical Trials in Germany
In the upcoming German clinical trials the vaccine will be tested on patients with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, melanoma, renal, bladder or head and neck cancer.
— Our technology is very flexible and it can record a number of different changes. The vaccine is therefore applicable as a treatment for many different kinds of cancers. The ones included in the trial are chosen because they contain a high number of mutations and changes creating a good basis to create a neoantigen vaccine.
During the trial Vaccibody will check if the vaccine is safe and without side effects.
— We really think it is based on previous experience with this platform! And we will of course check if the vaccine has the expected immune response and investigate signs of clinical efficacy, says Fredriksen.