Scientists Rapidly Advancing Cancer Vaccine Prospects Using Same Technology as Covid-19 Shots

VANCOUVER – USA News Group – Using the same technology as their Covid-19 shot, scientists behind the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca PLC (NASDAQ:AZN) are getting closer to developing a therapeutic cancer vaccine, based on promising animal studies results. Based on the rapidly accelerating development of Covid-19 tech, expectations are rising in the field of oncology to keep pace, with a COTA survey reporting two-thirds (66%) of cancer patients and their close family members reporting disappointment or frustration with the progress of investigational cancer treatments. Thankfully, AstraZeneca isn’t the only group in this fight, with several promising developments coming from other biotech firms, such as BioVaxys Technology Corp. (CSE:BIOV) (OTCQB:BVAXF), BioNTech SE (NASDAQ:BNTX), CureVac N.V. (NASDAQ:CVAC), and Moderna, Inc. (NASDAQ:MRNA).

With two issued US patents and two patent applications related to BVX-0918A, its own cancer vaccine, BioVaxys Technology Corp. (CSE:BIOV) (OTCQB:BVAXF) recently announced a major milestone in the development of the bioproduction process of BVX-0918A that’s slated to begin the next phase of manufacturing process development.

As per the report, cancer vaccine manufacturing partner BioElpida of Lyon, France has completed the technology and process transfer with BioVaxys and started QbD development phase which includes establishing the control methods and manufacturing process development. As well, as BioElpida is advancing preparations for GMP manufacturing of BVX-0918A, the preparation of the new manufacturing facility is ongoing and on schedule. 

“This major step is essentially a ‘dry-run’ for manufacturing the vaccine and preparation for GMP production,”said BioElpida President Gilles Devilliers. “Although there is significant know-how required to produce a GLP process that has been contributed by both BioVaxys and BioElpida, production of GMP-grade vaccine is about validation, proving sterility, quality control, etc., which must all be extremely well documented for regulatory authorities.”

BVX-0918A is headed for a planned Phase I clinical trial in Spain early next year with BioVaxys’ EU commercial partner Procare Health Iberia.

Much like AstraZeneca PLC (NASDAQ:AZN), BioNTech SE (NASDAQ:BNTX), and Moderna, Inc. (NASDAQ:MRNA), BioVaxys Technology also has a Covid-19 shot in development, BVX-0320—but BioVaxys’ is based on its haptenized viral protein technology, which differs from the current shots being delivered worldwide, and has already demonstrated it can stimulate robust T-cell response against viral antigens, for potential longer-term viral protection.

Researchers behind the AstraZeneca PLC (NASDAQ:AZN) candidate have designed a two-dose cancer vaccine using the same viral vector technology used in its Covid-19 treatment. The AstraZeneca candidate targets specific structures, known as MAGE proteins, found on the surface of many cancers.

“We knew from our previous research that MAGE-type proteins act like red flags on the surface of cancer cells to attract immune cells that destroy tumours,” said Benoit Van den Eynde, Professor of Tumour Immunology at the University of Oxford. “MAGE proteins have an advantage over other cancer antigens as vaccine targets since they are present on a wide range of tumour types… This broadens the potential benefit of this approach to people with many different types of cancer.”

Back in June, BioNTech SE (NASDAQ:BNTX) announced the first patient dosed in its Phase II trial of its mRNA cancer vaccine, BNT111 that targets anti-PD1-refractory/relapsed unresectable Stage III or IV melanoma.

The open-label randomised trial will assess the efficacy, tolerability and safety of BNT111 in combination with Libtayo. While BNT111 is fully owned by BioNTech, Libtayo, an anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody, is being co-developed by Regeneron and Sanofi.

“Our vision is to harness the power of the immune system against cancer and infectious diseases,” said BioNTech’s co-founder and CMO Özlem Türeci. “We were able to demonstrate the potential of mRNA vaccines in addressing Covid-19. We must not forget, that cancer is also a global health threat, even worse than the current pandemic.”

According to analysts, the mRNA cancer vaccine market is expected to boom to $127 billion at a CAGR of +28% between 2021-2028.

Therefore, another developer, whose name is now synonymous with mRNA vaccines, Moderna, Inc. (NASDAQ:MRNA) also has an eye on cancer vaccines. Recently the company announced the launch of Phase II randomized, placebo-controlled study of personalized vaccine full enrollment. These programs focus on stimulating a patient’s immune system with antigens derived from tumor-specific mutations to enable the immune system to elicit a more effective anti-tumor response.

“We are making progress on enrolling patients in our rare disease programs, and we are fully enrolled in our personalized cancer vaccine trial,” said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna. “We believe this is just the beginning of a new age of information-based medicines.”

Moderna’s candidate personalized cancer vaccine (PCV) (mRNA-4157) is being studied in combination with Merck’s pembrolizumab (KEYTRUDA®), compared to pembrolizumab alone, for the adjuvant treatment of high-risk resected melanoma is fully enrolled.

However, not all mRNA cancer vaccines are having a smooth ride. Back in August, CureVac N.V. (NASDAQ:CVAC) announced that its partners Boehringer Ingelheim terminated their partnership on a mRNA lunch cancer vaccine—a $600 million partnership deal, gone.

CureVac said that Boehringer Ingelheim moved to terminate the collaboration agreement on BI1361849 in June, effective in November.

“The legacy program, targeting specific immune responses against tumor-associated antigens frequently overexpressed in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), applies an older protamine formulation technology, which reflected the state of the technology development at the time," said CureVac in a statement.

CureVac also said that a phase 1/2 test in NSCLC with BI1361849 as a combo therapy “is ongoing,” and that both companies “are currently assessing options to continue a collaboration on CureVac’s RNA technology platform based on state-of-the-art LNP-based formulations.”

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