Pancreatic cancer vaccine shows promise
VIENNA, Austria—In one of its latest preclinical trials, OncoQR ML has reported that its pancreatic cancer vaccine TYG100 induced a strong, clinically relevant immune response in a highly relevant non-human primate model (NHP). Even more encouraging, this response presented in all treated individuals within two weeks after a single vaccination, with no observed side effects.
A clear correlation between dose and immune response was observed, as was the fact that concomitant standard chemotherapy treatment with gemcitabine does not impair the immune response.
“We are extremely excited about the characteristics that TYG100 has shown in this trial in a pancreatic cancer model. For an immunotherapy to provide maximum clinical value in an aggressive disease such as pancreatic cancer, the immune response must be really strong and be achieved really fast. And it is critical that the suspension of checkpoint control—which allows the immune system to mount a powerful attack against tumor cells, as it does not consider them as ‘own’ cells—is reversible. The data from our recent trials suggest that TYG100 has just these characteristics,” Dr. Geert C. Mudde, chief scientific officer of OncoQR, said in a press release.
The vaccine candidate TYG100 is designed to elicit an immune response against gastrin (G17). As explained in a Digestion article, “Role of gastrin as a trophic hormone,” gastrin has two main biological functions: “stimulation of acid secretion of gastric parietal cells” (gastric acid secretion in the stomach to aid in digestion) and “stimulation of mucosal growth in the acid-secreting part of the stomach.” The hormone has proliferative effects, as “exogenously administered gastrin causes increased cell division in the proliferative zone that lies between the surface cells and the gastric glands in the acid-secreting mucosa. The newly formed cells undergo differentiation into surface epithelial cells, parietal cells and gastric enterochromaffin-like cells.” Though OncoQR’s work was focused on pancreatic cancer, gastrin is also known to play a role as a growth factor for colorectal cancer.
G17 was selected due to the fact that clinical Phase 3 trials have shown that even with an inferior predecessor vaccine, G17DT, an appropriate immune response against G17 can significantly prolong survival by several months. Despite the potential, especially compared to gemcitabine, the current standard chemotherapy, the immune response to G17DT was only seen after several vaccinations, and only in a subset of patients too small to be statistically relevant. TYG100, however, could consistently engender a clinically relevant response in all vaccinated individuals, one significantly stronger than even the best cases of the aforementioned clinical trials. In addition, it elicits this immune response even under concomitant chemotherapy.
“The results from this trial with TYG100 show that this therapy has the potential to bring a huge benefit to patients suffering from a fast-killing disease,” Christof Langer, CEO of OncoQR, commented. “With all the necessary in-vivo tests concluded and Orphan Drug Designation for TYG100 granted by the FDA, we are now seeking strong partners for the fast track clinical development of this exciting oncology product.”
OncoQR ML’s candidates are based on the company’s proprietary human-specific S-TIR (specific T-cell immune remodeling) technology platform, which enables a patient’s immune system to generate a powerful immune response against tumor-associated antigens. This platform was originally developed by S-TARget therapeutics for the treatment of severe allergic diseases, but the founders of S-TARget saw the potential for its application in cancer immunotherapy as well, leading to the founding of OncoQR.