The Czech biotech company Sotio has shown in a phase II trial that its cellular immunotherapy can decrease the risk of a patient dying from ovarian cancer by 62%.
The cell therapy was tested in people with the most severe stages of recurrent ovarian cancer, in combination with second-line chemotherapy when cancer returned after a first-line treatment. The trial recruited a total of 71 patients in the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland.
After 2 years, 73% of those treated with the combination survived, compared to 41% for those treated only with chemotherapy. The overall survival of the patients increased by 13.4 months when receiving Sotio’s cellular immunotherapy.
This immunotherapy makes use of the patient’s own dendritic cells — a kind of immune cell that is responsible for signaling the immune system to attack a threat. The cells are extracted from the patients and exposed to killed ovarian cancer cells. This primes the immune cells against the characteristics of ovarian cancer cells before being returned to the patient.
Following the encouraging results of this phase II study, Sotio is now planning a phase III trial to test the treatment on a larger number of patients across the world.
With the first FDA approval of a CAR-T cell therapy just over one year ago, cell therapies that harness the power of the immune system to fight cancer are gaining recognition as an effective treatment for cancer. Treatments already in the market make use of immune T cells, engineering them to target a specific cancer antigen. With its dendritic cell therapy, Sotio aims to target different kinds of cancer by just changing the type of tumor cells they are exposed to. The company is already testing this approach in prostate and lung cancer.
But Sotio is not the only one seeking to harness dendritic cells against cancer, companies such as Immunicum in Sweden or CiMaas in the Netherlands are developing their own cancer treatments based on these promising immune cells.
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