Advaxis pushes into animal care with cancer immunotherapy

Vaccine developer Advaxis ($ADXS) is taking a gamble in animal health. The Princeton, NJ-based company is looking to get approval for a product that would battle HER2-overexpressing cancer in dogs.

The filing with the USDA on July 2 is for Advaxis proprietary HER2/neu-directed cancer immunotherapy for the treatment of canine osteosarcoma, ADXS-cHER2. The filing was submitted by Aratana Therapeutics ($PETX), an animal health company in Kansas that partners with biotech and pharma, which was granted the rights by Advaxis to develop and market the immunotherapy product. A spokesperson for Aratana says the company has 15 products in its pipeline that will treat not only cancer in dogs, but pain, problems with appetite and allergies.

Nicola Mason

A second clinical trial for ADXS-cHER2 is being carried out at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Its principal investigator, Dr. Nicola Mason, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pathobiology, found in the first trial that treatment with ADXS-cHER2, combined with radiation therapy, can decrease bone cancer pain and prolong overall survival in companion dogs, without the need of amputation. Some 10,000 dogs were diagnosed with osteosarcoma last year in the U.S.

"Now we are evaluating whether ADXS-cHER2 can be used to treat the primary tumor as well as prevent spread of the disease into the lungs--that is, we are now treating dogs that cannot undergo amputation and follow up chemotherapy," she told CBS New York.

Advaxis last month teamed up with CRO inVentiv Health to advance a stable of oncology candidates, including human treatments, that work by mounting an immune system attack on cancer tissue.

- read the release
- watch a segment on CBS