Immunovaccine’s Incyte-partnered cancer vaccine shows early promise in ovarian cancer

ovarian clear cell carcinoma
Immunovaccine showed that its cancer vaccine, when paired with Incyte's epacadostat, might work in ovarian cancer.

Immunovaccine’s lead cancer vaccine, DPX-Survivac, combined with Incyte’s IDO1 enzyme inhibitor epacadostat and chemo cyclophosphamide, showed some early promise in advanced ovarian cancer.

According to early results from a phase 1b study, three of the 10 patients treated with the combination therapy achieved partial responses with a greater than 30% decrease in tumor size, whereas four patients’ disease isn’t significantly getting worse or better. Two patients who completed one year of treatment still had responses ongoing.

Blood tests also showed that most patients have exhibited targeted T-cell activation, which is linked with tumor regression.

Immunovaccine CEO Frederic Ors interpreted these early results as promising. “We are excited by the potential of DPX-Survivac to increase the number of individuals who may benefit from novel combination immunotherapies, and look forward to our continued work with Incyte and our other partners to increase the treatment options for such patients,” he said in a statement.

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Based on the vaccine company’s DepoVax platform that allows freeze-dried vaccines to be reconstituted in oil, DPX-Survivac targets survivin, a cancer stem cell antigen and biomarker of cancer progression. Immuovaccine has also paired it with Merck’s Keytruda plus cyclophosphamide in ovarian cancer and is testing the vaccine platform as part of combo therapies for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

Immunovaccine’s goal with DPX-Survivac’s two early programs, however, is to confirm its ability to increase the vulnerability of hard-to-treat tumors. The company said that the survivin target is currently associated with over 20 types of solid and hematological cancers.

Incyte and Merck are also experimenting with the IDO1/PD-1 combo. Although the method delivered an excellent overall response rate in non-small cell lung cancer, its 8% ORR for ovarian cancer was unimpressive at best.

Tesaro’s Zejula and AstraZeneca’s Lynparza aside, even on the cancer vaccine front, Immunovaccine’s candidate is not the sole player in the recurrent ovarian cancer realm.

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TapImmune’s lead candidate, TPIV200, a multiple-epitope anti-folate receptor alpha (FRα) immunotherapy, with an FDA orphan drug designation, has paired up with AstraZeneca’s checkpoint inhibitor Imfinzi in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer patients. What’s more, in order to tap a larger patient base, TapImmune has also initiated a phase 2 trial that focuses the vaccine as a maintenance therapy in women with late-stage ovarian cancer who are in remission, and it has been fast-tracked by the FDA for that usage.

According to TapImmune’s third-quarter update, the AZ-partnered phase 2 combo study will have preliminary results with tumor response data on the first 27 patients in the first half of 2018, and an interim futility analysis from the platinum-sensitive maintenance trial is expected in early 2019.