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Biotech Cancer Vaccine Investing

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted July 17, 2013

The biotechnology and clinical stage vaccine development company Immunovaccine Inc. out of Halifax, Nova Scotia announced Monday that it has found a partner to help carry out its next stage of clinical study in its advanced vaccine program.

The NCIC Clinical Trials Group (NCIC CTG) will support and conduct the second phase of Immunovaccine’s ovarian cancer vaccine, DPX-Survivac.

Immunovaccine announced positive results for its initial phase of the clinical study for DPX-Survivac earlier this year.

The NCIC CTG is a national Canadian organization as part of the Canadian Cancer Society and is recognized for conducting similar clinical trials on a large scale basis. The trials group is based out of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario and is in association with more than 60 members, from cancer centers to hospitals, who have patients used in similar clinical trials.

By joining forces, Immunovaccine not only becomes one step closer to an ovarian cancer breakthrough, but NCIC makes it a more cost-effective endeavor and gives the trials the credibility in its respective field.

Immunovaccine is also seeking additional partners and is in talks with others who may be willing to co-sponsor the trial that is set to begin in 2014. Results are expected in 2017.

Phase ll of DPX-Survivac vaccine trials will involve 250 randomized patients with advanced ovarian cancer, being treated at roughly 20 cancer centers.


The ultimate objective of this study is designed to assess whether Immunovaccine’s DPX’Survivac can in effect delay or prevent cancer from reoccurring in tested patients.

DPX-Survivac is classified as an immunotherapeutic with the intent to teach the immune system to recognize and kill the body’s cells that contain survivin. Survivin is commonly found in many of the most common forms of cancer, including breast, colon and skin cancer, among others.

Phase ll will be conducted with a placebo-controlled study that will use DPX-Survivac and a low dose of cyclophosphamide as an immune modulator.

The patients used in the study will all have undergone some form of surgery and post-operative chemotherapy. They will be chosen randomly and placed in two separate groups, one that receives a combination of DPX-Survivac and cyclophosphamide and the other who will receive the placebo with the same immune modulator.

Patients will be regulated closely and immune responses will be measured for correlative effects. This will in turn give Immunovaccine the answers it needs to guide further development of its DPX-Survivac vaccine.

Phase l of the vaccine has already showed promising results. 18 patients who were tested and received the dose in combination with cyclophosphamide all responded well and presented signs that specific T cells (CD8 T cells) were sustained by the body’s immune system.

The CD8 T cell in particular is a critical part of all cancer treatment because scientists believe they are responsible for identifying and eliminating cancer cells that are left behind from treatment and/or recovery. Being able to control these specific cells could represent, I don’t want to say cure for cancer, but could definitely be instrumental in delaying the process or preventing the threat of reoccurrence.

The patients as part of Phase l experienced no systematic side effects from the vaccine.


Immunovaccine’s primary focus is the advancement and patented development of its DepoVax vaccine. It also works to produce other candidates used for cancer therapy, infectious disease and animal health.

DepoVax is a well-developed platform that has proven successful in generating efficient immune responses against a wide range of targets. It currently is the foundation of its DPX-Survivac vaccine and DPX-0907 that has demonstrated promising tumor-specific immune responses.

Immunovaccine is also working on infectious disease programs that include vaccines for malaria, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and anthrax, as well as health vaccines for animals that contribute to human health advancements.

Partnerships include many leaders in their respective fields like the National Institutes of Health, Weill Cornell Medical College and Zoetis (formerly Pfizer Animal Health).

Immunovaccine is on the right track in the fight against cancer. DPX-Survivac is among a class of other immunotherapeutic treatments that have shown signs of stopping cancer in its tracks. Other companies like Bristol Myers Squibb Company (NYSE: BMY) and Merck & Co Inc. (NYSE: MRK) have each found their own success in development of the fight to defend patients against cancer.

The DPX-Survivac has one of the toughest fights of them all. Ovarian cancer accounts for more deaths than any other gynecologic cancer and symptoms don’t occur until often it is too late for the patient to be saved. Each year, 100,000 women die as a result of ovarian cancer. After prognosis, the average life expectancy for a newly diagnosed ovarian cancer patient is less than four years to live.

There has been some promising research that can reduce the risk of occurrence, but for now, it is a losing battle against ovarian cancer.

DPX-Survivac and Phase ll of Immunovaccine’s clinical trial with the NCIC CTG could move mountains in the cancer research field. And it could be the vaccine that saves our mothers and daughters one day.

Sure, it’s a few years away from market, but Immunovaccine is clearly making a name for itself already.