ImmunoCellular starts Phase II trial of brain cancer vaccine

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is heralding its involvement in a new Phase II trial of ImmunoCellular Therapeutics' ICT-107. The cancer vaccine, which we recently chose as one of 10 promising vaccines in development, targets glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), an aggressive form of brain cancer. Up to 160 GBM patients will be enrolled at 20 U.S. and Canadian clinical trial centers, notes SeekingAlpha.

ImmunoCellular's approach is unique because ICT-107 targets cancer stem cells, which cause relapse or recurrence. "The antigens used in this vaccine target the tumor stem cells—the handful of cells that keep the tumor alive and dividing," explained Wake Forest professor Glenn Lesser in a statement. "Most of the cells we kill with standard treatment are likely not the ones driving the tumor growth. If the stem cells aren't targeted, they keep generating more tumors." He likened the vaccine to "giving a piece of clothing to a bloodhound and then letting it loose to find a missing person."

ICT-107 is similar to Dendreon's ($DNDN) prostate cancer treatment Provenge in that the vaccine is personalized to each recipient. However, the dendritic cells removed from patients to form ICT-107 are exposed to a variety of different antigens, explains SeekingAlpha; Provenge is comprised of dendritic cells exposed to a single antigen. ImmunoCellular hopes its approach will result in a stronger immune response to the vaccine.

ImmunoCellular reported unusually promising results from a small Phase I trial of the experimental vaccine two years ago, noting that almost half of the 16 patients recruited for the trial were still alive without disease progression 18 months after treatment began.

- here's the press release for more
- read background from SeekingAlpha

Special Report: ICT-107 - 10 Promising Therapeutic Vaccines