Company: Antigen Express
Target: breast cancer
Antigen Express' vaccine candidate is getting talked about, in part because of the way it leverages the same concept behind RXi's more advanced offering, seemingly without treading on the other company's patent position. Generex Biotechnology's wholly-owned subsidiary describes AE37 as an "off-the-shelf cancer immunotherapy product candidate that is easier and less costly to produce than comparable cell-based approaches."
Like NeuVax, AE37 is intended to provoke the immune system by presenting it with a fragment of the HER2 receptor expressed in some 75%-80% of breast cancers and frequently also in prostate, ovarian and other cancers. Also like NeuVax, AE37 is being positioned initially as an adjuvant therapy for breast cancer patients whose levels of HER2 expression are too low to make them eligible for treatment with Herceptin.
AE37 is presently the object of a Phase II clinical study involving more than 200 patients with node-positive or high-risk node-negative breast cancer. The trial aims to show a reduction in cancer relapse after two years compared with patients not given the vaccine. In August, the company reported that "at a median of 17 months follow-up, the relapse rate in patients with low levels of HER2 expression treated with AE37 is half that of the same patient population in the control arm."
While many researchers pursuing cancer immunotherapies have focused on rallying CD8+ cells, the executives of Antigen Express argue that this population alone cannot effectively battle established cancers, and emphasize the importance of also rousing CD4+ cells. An article by the company's president, explaining the history of the field and his firm's approach, appears in the October issue of Scientific American magazine. http://antigenexpress.com/news_release.asp?NewsID=161