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U.K. government awards $2.7M grant to PsiOxus cancer vaccine

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

PsiOxus Therapeutics, a development stage biotechnology company based in the U.K was awarded a $2.7 million grant from the U.K. government-backed Biomedical Catalyst to initiate a phase I/II clinical trial to assess the use of ColoAd1 in the treatment of platinum-resistant, recurrent ovarian cancer.

The OCTAVE (Ovarian Cancer Treated with AdenoVirus) study will be the second clinical trial of the systemically available oncolytic vaccine ColoAd1—a highly potent, broad-spectrum, anticancer therapeutic capable of destroying tumor cells at minute concentrations.

The OCTAVE phase I/II study will assess the safety and efficacy of ColoAd1 when given to patients by intra-peritoneal perfusion at multiple U.K. cancer centers beginning in 2013. The principal investigator of the study will be Iain McNeish, a professor from the Institute of Cancer Sciences at the University of Glasgow. Over 50 ovarian cancer patients will receive multiple doses of intra-peritoneal ColoAd1 in this clinical trial and will be assessed for immunological responses as well as tumor response and survival.

“Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death for women in the U.K.,” said McNeish. “This funding for the OCTAVE study will enable us to evaluate in great detail the use of ColoAd1 as a very exciting potential new treatment for ovarian cancer.”

The grant is part of the $288 million Biomedical Catalyst program, a program of public funding designed to deliver growth to the U.K. life sciences sector. Operated jointly by the Medical Research Council and the Technology Strategy Board, it aims to provide responsive and effective support for the best life science opportunities that demonstrate the highest scientific and commercial potential.

“We are delighted to be a recipient of this Biomedical Catalyst award in recognition of the important potential of our ColoAd1 oncolytic vaccine in addressing this global healthcare challenge. This form of matched funding is critical to help boost the UK life science sector and early stage biotechnology companies, such as PsiOxus,” said Dr. John Beadle, CEO of PsiOxus Therapeutics. “This grant enables PsiOxus to examine this exciting cancer vaccine in a second form of metastatic cancer, thus demonstrating its medical and commercial potential as a broad spectrum anti-cancer therapeutic.”

ColoAd1 was developed using the evolutionary principle of natural selection to generate an oncolytic vaccine with optimal anti-cancer properties. The vaccine is injected into the bloodstream, and is then delivered to the cancer sites, where it replicates inside of cancer cells and kills them. Each infected cell produces thousands of new copies of ColoAd1, which spread to nearby cancer cells and kills them, as well, while ignoring normal cells. The approach represents a new generation of so-called “self-amplifying” cancer therapy that has the effect of killing tumors and acting as a cancer vaccine.

ColoAd1 is highly effective at selectively targeting and killing cancer cells while having little or no activity on normal tissue. ColoAd1 has been shown to be up to 1,200 times more potent at killing human cancer cells than non-cancerous human cells. Standard chemotherapy agents are much less selective for cancer cells, accounting for the often-severe side effects of chemotherapy.

ColoAd1 is currently being investigated in the phase I/II Evolve (EValuating OncoLytic Vaccine Efficacy) clinical trial for the treatment of metastatic solid tumors. The first three patients have so far been dosed, with initial results of this phase I component of the study expected by the end of 2013.

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