Cell-based pancreatic cancer vaccine increases survival

BioSante Pharmaceuticals' ($BPAX) shares rose 14% on the news its pancreatic cancer vaccine increased survival by around 60%, according to results presented at the 2012 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium.

In the Phase Ib study, 30 people with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, the most common form of pancreatic cancer, were treated with a combination of BioSante's GVAX Pancreas cancer vaccine and Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) Yervoy (ipilimumab), a monoclonal antibody marketed for the treatment of melanoma, or ipilimumab alone.

In patients treated with ipilimumab alone, the survival time was around 3.3 months--when it was combined with GVAX Pancreas, this increased to 5.5 months. After one year, 7% of people on the monoclonal antibody were still alive, compared with 27% of those getting the combination treatment. The patients also showed an immune response against mesothelin, a biomarker with increased levels in this type of cancer.

"We are very excited by the positive results of this study. This is encouraging news concerning potential GVAX cancer vaccines, especially when combined with other anticancer immunotherapies like IPI, for treatment of a disease that can be so devastating for so many patients," said Stephen Simes, BioSante's president and CEO.

GVAX Pancreas is made from pancreatic cancer cells that have been genetically modified to produce the cytokine GM-CSF, which stimulates the immune system. These patients had advanced cancer, and it was an early stage trial designed to look at safety and signs of effectiveness rather than comparing the two drugs directly, so these results are a positive sign, but much more research is needed. BioSante is planning another trial during 2013.

In a recent study of ipilimumab with Bavarian Nordic's poxvirus-based investigational therapeutic vaccine in prostate cancer, the combination also showed early signs of improving survival.

- read the press release
- see the abstract
- check out the article in BioCentury