Immunicum has reported new data on long-term follow-up of patients treated with ilixadencel, a unique dendritic cell therapy against cancer.
Immunicum is a Swedish biotech developing a cell-based therapy against cancer. The company has just published in the Journal for Immunotherapy for Cancer detailed results from a Phase I/II trial evaluating its lead candidate ilixadencel. The cell therapy is currently in Phase II to treat metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC), for which no effective long-term treatments are available.
The experimental therapy was administered in combination with Pfizer’s sunitinib, approved for the treatment of RCC, and Immunicum has kept monitoring the 11 patients after officially completing the study in 2014. As of 2017, five patients are still alive and the mean overall survival has reached 48 months, which is a huge improvement when compared to the approximately 15 months expected with standard therapies.
Ilixadencel, previously known as Intuvax, is composed of activated dendritic cells derived from healthy donors that are injected into the tumor, where they recruit the patient’s own immune system. It’s an off-the-shelf cell therapy obtained from healthy donors, which would result in easier manufacturing and lower costs as compared to patient-derived cells.
In theory, this strategy could be applied to any injectable solid tumor, which is particularly exciting given that targeting solid tumors is still a huge challenge. “We believe that the future of cancer treatment lies in the rapidly evolving landscape of combination therapies and ilixadencel is uniquely positioned to become an integral part of modern combination regimens,” said Alex Karlsson-Parra, CSO of Immunicum, in a statement.
According to Carlos de Sousa, CEO of the company, the effort to publish the results is part of the company’s strategy to communicate its data and build validation for its technology. As he commented during an oncology panel at Labiotech Refresh, the regulatory authorities in Europe are struggling to keep up with the rapid advances in the field.
Immunicum is not the only developing cell-based therapies for cancer. The French PDC*line Pharma is also focusing on dendritic cells, while many others compete to bring the promising CAR-T cell technology to the market. Ensuring the data is available is a great initiative to help build laws that will adequately regulate these novel technologies.
Images via xrender / Shutterstock; Laurell et al., Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer 2017 5:52