Target: Cervical, head and neck cancers
Advaxis is standing out from the crowd of research organizations working to develop an immunotherapy against human papillomavirus (HPV), the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease in the U.S. Its therapeutic vaccine candidate ADXS-HPV, is being evaluated in four Phase II clinical trials, including two trials in cervical cancer, one in head and neck cancer, and one in cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. More than 130 patients have been dosed with it so far.
The vaccine candidate and the technology platform underlying it are sparking interest because it uses-apparently, safely-a live attenuated bacteria known to cause a deadly form of food poisoning. Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) made headlines across the U.S. in October, having tainted cantaloupes that killed at least 25 people.
Advaxis has engineered the bacteria to secrete an antigen/adjuvant fusion protein it believes can take advantage of the powerful immune response that all human beings have to Lm and redirect it to battle cancer. ADXS-HPV was deemed by Windhover and the Campbell Alliance as one of the "2011 Top 10 Most Interesting Oncology Projects to Watch." The company will present at Windhover's Therapeutic Area Partnerships meeting taking place on Nov. 30-Dec 2.
The hope is that the bacteria will be able to make immune-stimulating fusion proteins with many different kinds of antigens: More than 15 separate vaccine constructs are in various stages of development, by Advaxis itself and via collaborations with institutions including the National Cancer Institute, Cancer Research UK, the Wistar Institute and the University of Pennsylvania.