Next week researchers are scheduled on January 21, 2015, to provide an update on a novel cancer treatment undergoing human trials in Singapore. The MicroVAX immunotherapy Phase I trial began in May, 2014, recruiting cancer patients with metastatic or recurrent epithelial cancers of the lung, breast, ovary, prostate or colon.
This single-site, open label, dose escalation trial is unique in many ways: partly because it’s open to so many different types of cancer patients, both men and women, but also because of the methods used in the immunotherapy. Ultimately, the goal of MicroVAX is to be used for both the prevention and treatment of epithelial cancers. In mouse models the immunotherapy has proven synergistic with chemotherapy.
The MicroVAX treatment uses a recombinant adenovirus as a vehicle, or vector, to deliver the targeting antigen MUC-1 with the immune system stimulating CD40 ligand (CD40L). When CD40L binds with its CD40 protein on antigen presenting cells, an immune response is activated. Through several, simple, subcutaneous injections, it is hoped this vaccine will stimulate or prime the patient’s immune system to attack the cancer. MUC-1 overexpression is a hallmark of late stage epithelial cancers.
Adenoviruses have become popular in gene therapy because of their resilience in a variety of environments, minimal adverse side-effects, and ability to host targeting proteins. In 2005, China approved the world’s first oncolytic adenovirus therapy, H101, for the treatment of cancer in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients.
According to a report in FierceBiotech, an invitation to the Jan. 21 update press conference says the trial “so far shows promising results.”
The trial is being jointly overseen by the US FDA and Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority, and is sponsored by the Singapore Clinical Research Institute. It’s recruiting patients through the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), which treats almost 70% of cancer cases in Singapore.