Cancer Vaccines: Training the immune system to attack cancer
OncoPep's lead therapeutic cancer vaccine, PVX-410, has the potential to overcome many of the obstacles that have encumbered cancer vaccines in the past.
OncoPep is advancing PVX-410 into multiple clinical trials to evaluate safety and efficacy of this investigational cancer vaccine for patients with smoldering multiple myeloma and triple negative breast cancer, clinical indications for which there remains a high, unmet medical need.
Therapeutic cancer vaccines are based on the premise that cancer develops as a result of the immune system not mounting an effective immune response against cancer cells. Cancer vaccines like PVX-410 are designed to "educate" the T cell component of the patient's immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells in order to halt the growth of established tumors.
Smoldering Multiple Myeloma
Smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM) is an asymptomatic, plasma cell proliferative disorder characterized by monoclonal plasma cell proliferation in the bone marrow and monoclonal proteins in the blood and/or urine. Currently, there is no active treatment for SMM.
Standard care for patients diagnosed with SMM is “watchful waiting”. Treatment is initiated after progression to symptomatic disease.
Although asymptomatic, a subset of SMM is associated with a high-risk of progression to symptomatic multiple myeloma (MM) or AL amyloidosis1 with the median time to progression (TTP), from diagnosis to symptomatic disease, ranging from 2 to 3 years. MM is a debilitating type of hematologic (or blood) cancer that affects plasma cells. It is the second most common blood cancer, accounting for 13% of all hematologic cancers and 1% of all cancer deaths. MM is characterized by a proliferation of malignant plasma cells, which may in turn interfere with the normal production of blood cells. MM causes significant side effects, such as debilitating bone pain and fractures, anemia, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, renal insufficiency and failure, hypercalcemia and increased chance of infection. The median survival for MM is 7-8 years, and unfortunately, there is no cure. Additionally, current treatment options – which include chemotherapy, radiation and stem cell transplantation – can result in severe side effects to the patient.
1 Kyle R, Remstein ED, Therneau TM, Dispenzieri A, Kurtin PJ, Hodnefield JM, et al. Clinical course and prognosis of smoldering (asymptomatic) multiple myeloma. N Engl J Med 2007; 356 (25):2582-90.
Listen to Dr. Noopur Raje of Mass General Hospital provide an overview of SMM:
Triple Negative Breast Cancer
Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is characterized by tumors that do not express the three most common types of receptors known to fuel most breast cancer growth, including estrogen, progesterone, and the HER-2/neu gene.
This means that the breast cancer cells have tested negative for hormone epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2), estrogen receptors (ER), and progesterone receptors (PR). TNBC, representing 15-20% of all breast cancers, is associated with a more aggressive clinical course and poor prognosis in early stage and metastatic disease compared to non-TNBC, disproportionally affecting premenopausal women and African-American women1. Patients diagnosed with metastatic TNBC have a median survival of just over 1 year, and patients with early stage TNBC have a median 5 year survival of 77% compared to 93% for non-TNBC. Residual disease after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (non-pathologic complete response) predicts a poor prognosis with nearly half of such patients experiencing a recurrence within 5 years.
The standard of care for these patients is chemotherapy.
1 (Cortazar P, Zhang L, Untch M, et al: Pathological complete response and long-term clinical benefit in breast cancer: the CTNeoBC pooled analysis. Lancet 384:164-72, 2014)