Company: Aduro Biotech
Target: Pancreatic cancer
Advaxis is not the only company developing a Listeria-based therapeutic vaccine platform. Aduro Biotech of Berkeley, CA, has one, too. In early October, Aduro began a Phase II trial of its CRS-207 against pancreatic cancer. The bacteria in this vaccine candidate have been engineered to produce the protein mesothelin, an antigen often expressed by solid tumors.
Before administering CRS-207, clinicians "prime" patients with a separate immunostimulatory vaccine called GVAX Pancreas. Aduro licensed rights to GVAX Pancreas and other related products from BioSante: This one is comprised of cancer cell lines that have been genetically modified so that they cannot divide (and spread cancer). What they can do is secrete granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), a protein well-known to stimulate the immune system and often used in combination with chemotherapy. Aduro's treatment protocol calls for GVAX to be given with low-dose cyclophosphamide, which has been shown to increase effectiveness.
Data from a Phase I trial of CRS-207 were encouraging: The study included 17 end-stage patients with several kinds of cancers known to express mesothelin (mesothelioma, non-small cell lung, ovarian and pancreatic cancers). Despite a historical average survival time of only 3-5 months for this end-stage patient population, six out of 17 patients treated with CRS-207 in this Phase I trial lived 15 months or longer.
Aduro is hoping that its Phase II trial will show that arousing patients' immune systems with GM-CSF will produce even better clinical results.