Whether it’s developing a vaccine that works efficiently with a patient’s immune system to treat cancer or building innovative vaccines to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, Halifax-based Immunovaccine Inc. is pursuing big ideas.
With the support of funding through ACOA’s Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF), the company has patented an innovative vaccine adjuvanting and delivery platform called DepoVax™. DepoVax™ is a breakthrough in vaccine development that provides controlled and prolonged exposure of antigens plus adjuvant to the immune system, resulting in a strong, specific and sustained immune response with the capability for single-dose effectiveness. The DepoVax™ platform possesses impressive flexibility, allowing it to work with a broad range of vaccine target antigens in various therapeutic applications.
The ability for DepoVax-based vaccines to generate a strong cellular immune response holds enormous potential for the emerging field of cancer immunotherapy. While traditional chemotherapy uses chemicals to attack the disease, targeted therapeutic cancer vaccines when formulated in DepoVax have the potential to train the patient’s immune system to destroy cancer cells and to help keep the cancer in remission.
Immunovaccine has demonstrated the clinical safety and activity of DepoVax™, having completed Phase I clinical trials for two cancer vaccine candidates; DPX-0907 in patients with prostate, breast and ovarian cancer and DPX-Survivac in patients with ovarian cancer. DPX-Survivac incorporates survivin, a high profile multi-cancer antigen, with the DepoVax™ adjuvanting platform.
Immunovaccine recently completed the Phase I clinical trials for DPX-Survivac in Canada and the U.S. with results showing sustained, dose related immune responses for all ovarian cancer patients treated with the vaccine therapy, including multiple strong responders with circulating CD8 T cells. The activation of antigen specific CD8 T cells is of particular interest as these immune cells are implicated in infiltrating tumors, identifying and killing cancer targets.
The company continues to advance its pipeline with infectious disease vaccines in indications such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common lung disease in children, the elderly and patients with a compromised immune system, in addition to malaria, and anthrax. Immunovaccine is preparing for the first human trial of its DepoVax™ platform technology in infectious diseases.
Immunovaccine employs 21 full-time staff members, including seven doctoral level scientists. Immunovaccine is publicly traded on the TSX-Venture Exchange under the IMV symbol.
In developing vaccines for human health, Immunovaccine has established partnerships with the laboratories at Dalhousie University and the National Research Council of Canada. The company has also attracted high quality collaborators, such as the National Institutes of Health, involved in developing multiple vaccines for infectious diseases and biodefense, as well as Weill Cornell Medical College, in New York, to test new antigens formulated in DepoVax™, for an anti-cocaine vaccine.
Chief Executive Officer, John Trizzino says the funding received through the AIF allows Immunovaccine to expand and reach clinical milestones sooner than would otherwise be possible. This, in turn, will lead to the advancement of other vaccines which will attract additional investment and bring the company closer to reaching its commercial goals.
“Receiving funding through the AIF program is a highly competitive process and we are pleased that our proposal was recognized for its scientific merit, innovation and therapeutic potential,” says Trizzino.
Driven by the adult influenza vaccine market, new pediatric vaccines, and emerging immunotherapies, Trizzino says vaccines are one of the fastest growing markets in healthcare. According to the Global Vaccine Market Forecast report, advancements in molecular genetics and the adoption of novel vaccine adjuvanting and delivery mechanisms will propel the vaccine market to $33 billion by 2013.
“With encouraging clinical results, Immunovaccine has an opportunity to advance its novel therapeutic cancer vaccines and potentially provide significant clinical benefit to cancer patients,” says Trizzino. “We are also well positioned to take a novel infectious disease vaccine forward and help solve an unmet medical need.”
With a focus on the therapeutic areas with the strongest growth potential, Immunovaccine is recognized as one of the most promising early stage biotech companies in Canada. The company is establishing global relationships with pharmaceutical companies and is well positioned to develop the next generation of therapeutic cancer vaccines and vaccines for infectious diseases.
AIF funding has enabled Immunovaccine to optimize its DepoVax™ vaccine platform and vastly improve the immune response of a wide range of vaccines, while contributing to the development of the health and medical cluster, an emerging strategic sector in Atlantic Canada.
Project: Research and development of new vaccines
Proponent: Immunovaccine Inc.
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Total AIF funding: $9.7 million – projects funded in 2003, 2008 and 2011
Total project costs: $20.9 million
Related website: www.imvaccine.com
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