Thanks to Accelerated COVID-19 Research, New Therapeutic Vaccines May Soon Be Upon Us
February 17, 2021 at 13:15 PM EST
FN Media Group Presents USA News Group News Commentary
Vancouver, BC – February 17, 2021 – USA News Group – Rollouts of two approved COVID-19 vaccines have for the past few months started making their way into markets around the world. Amid the attention given to COVID vaccines, new vaccines that target different types of cancers are gaining momentum. In the UK, enthusiasm has been growing for a four-year-old girl attempting to raise £100,000 in less than four months for a potentially life-saving cancer vaccine. Thanks to growing acceptance towards the use of mRNA vaccines like that of BioNTech SE (NASDAQ:BNTX) and Moderna, Inc. (NASDAQ:MRNA), vaccines that might not have been considered as viable pre-COVID-19 are being more seriously applied to potential cancer vaccine treatments. Now, new cancer vaccines are being developed and giving much needed hope to cancer patients, such as candidates from BioVaxys Technology Corp. (CSE:BIOV) against ovarian and cervical cancers, as well as collaborations from BioNTech with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:REGN), and Moderna with an approved treatment from Merck (NYSE:MRK).
A new ovarian cancer ‘therapeutic’ vaccine from Canadian company BioVaxys Technology Corp. (CSE:BIOV) is making headlines in the UK. It’s termed ‘therapeutic’ because it can be used as a treatment for those who are already ill. In the case of ovarian cancer, this proposition has high potential, as it already has a low survival rate due to its often being spotted late in its life cycle, when tumors have already spread to the rest of the body.
BioVaxys’s haptenized protein technology platform is designed to teach the body’s immune system how to recognize the invasive cancer cells, which are notorious for evading attack. Each injection involves the cancer cells extracted from the patient’s own tumours, and then is tailored to the individual’s system before being reinjected into the patient for the immune system to better do its job.
“In previous clinical evaluation, survival was two to three times what one would expect [in women with advanced ovarian cancer],” said Dr. David Berd, Chief Medical Officer and Co-Founder of BioVaxys. “There were a couple with five-year survival.”
Since that study took place, BioVaxys has tweaked the platform, further improving upon it to hopefully be capable of giving some women ‘years of extra life’, according to Dr. Berd.
BioVaxys is not only working on its haptenized protein vaccines for ovarian cancer, but also one for cervical cancer, as well as a viral vaccine for certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), and its own candidate vaccine for COVID-19.
In Europe, for its cancer and HPV vaccines, BioVaxys Technology Corp. (BIOV) is partnered with Procter & Gamble spinout company Procare Health of Barcelona. As per the terms of its collaboration, the two companies will co-develop and conduct joint commercialization and marketing of BioVaxys vaccines for ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, and HPV.
“We have been working for 8 years in the area of cervical cancer and HPV, investigating to understand how the immune response of the host could be stimulated to help defend versus HPV infection and persistency, and we believe that the new haptenized cell platform technology can bring a valid answer to this unmet therapeutical need, mainly when high grade lesions of the cervix or even cervical carcinoma have been characterized,” said Yann Gaslain, CEO of Procare Health. “The promising vaccine technology platform of BioVaxys will likely help bringing response in ovarian and cervical cancer.”
BioVaxys isn’t the only biotech developer that’s working simultaneously on a COVID-19 vaccine and cancer vaccines—as there has been significant progress coming from both BioNTech SE (NASDAQ:BNTX) and Moderna, Inc. (NASDAQ:MRNA).
While the rest of BioNTech SE (BNTX) was busy with the COVID-19 vaccine, company Co-Founder and CEO Ugur Sahin reported phase I results from his company’s first in-human- dose-escalation phase 1 trial of FixVac (BNT111) in advanced melanoma.
Shortly after the results were delivered, BioNTech announced a strategic collaboration with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:REGN) to advance a FixVac and Libtayo (cemibplimab) combination for the treatment of melanoma.
“We believe our FixVac platform represents a powerful new drug class of mRNA immunotherapies against cancer,” said Sahin. We look forward to working together with Regeneron to advance this product candidate into potentially registrational clinical trials.”
Regeneron and BioNTech are already in a randomized Phase II trial in patients with anti-PD1-refractory/relapsed, unresectable Stage III or IV cutaneous melanoma.
Much like its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, this cancer vaccine from Moderna also relies upon a messenger RNA-based candidate, mRNA-4157.
As per the results, mRNA-4157 shrank tumors for five out of ten patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), when given in combination with the FDA-approved Keytruda.
Merck recently decided to scrap its COVID-19 vaccine candidates, after two shots generated comparatively weak immune responses in early-stage studies. However, there have been no new announcements regarding the Moderna+Keytruda treatment since November.
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