Immunotherapies have transformed cancer care by enlisting the body’s own immune system to fight tumors that have evaded or hijacked normal defenses. But while checkpoint inhibitor drugs and bespoke CAR-T treatments have gained significant ground in recent years, another type of immunotherapy — cancer vaccines — have seen far less success. New research published this week in Nature Cancer, however, suggests combining a cancer vaccine with adjuvant molecules might boost effectiveness in preventing melanoma recurrence, potentially opening the door to future combinations with other immunotherapies to vanquish cancers. The idea behind a cancer vaccine is the same as the thinking behind a vaccine against a viral infection like Covid-19. Both work by presenting the immune system with something more harmless than the dangerous invader — like a dead virus or a piece of messenger RNA — in order to instruct immune cells to recognize the bad actors, develop antibodies to fight them, and mount an attack whenever they are encountered. “It’s sort of like the cancer grew up in this bad neighborhood where it had to figure out how to survive in this hostile environment, so it is experienced at getting around the immune system,” said Ryan Sullivan, an oncologist and associate director of the melanoma program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He was not involved in the Nature Cancer study.
Before the first checkpoint inhibitor was approved in 2011, the outlook was grim for patients with late-stage melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. Now five-year survival rates are much better, having risen from 5% to more than 40%. But not all patients benefit and not all types of cancer can be beaten back with these drugs.There’s hope that vaccines could one day help those patients who don’t respond to existing treatments. “The idea here is to make the training better so that you have better educated T cells that can then coordinate more effective attacks,” said Sullivan. In the new research, scientists at Mount Sinai and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center took an experimental vaccine developed by Celldex (NASDAQ:CLDX ) Therapeutics and added Flt3 ligand, a factor that mobilizes dendritic cells from their bone marrow precursors. Dendritic cells are the immune cells essential for presenting antigens to T cells so they can eliminate cancer or an infection. The researchers’ goal was to see if the Flt3 ligand could make more dendritic cells available in the body and in turn, might make the vaccine work better. The cocktail also contained poly-ICLC, a molecule that helped those dendritic cells work harder by promoting production of antibodies as well as helper and killer T cells.
In other ongoing research looking at cancer vaccines, the Cancer Research Institute, in partnership with the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, is studying a combination of a vaccine with the adjuvants Flt3 ligand and poly-ICLC plus the checkpoint inhibitor nivolumab (Opdivo) and standard-of-care radiation in castrate-resistant prostate cancer. Results are expected in the next six to 12 months, said Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, chief executive officer and director of scientific affairs at the Cancer Research Institute.
Avalon GloboCare Corp. (NASDAQ: AVCO) is a clinical-stage, vertically integrated, leading CellTech bio-developer with major prospects in immune effector cell therapy, exosome technology, as well as COVID-19 related diagnostics and therapeutics. Avalon also provides strategic advisory and outsourcing services to facilitate and enhance its clients’ growth and development, as well as competitiveness in healthcare and CellTech industry markets.
In the first quarter of 2020, Avalon GloboCare (NASDAQ: AVCO) successfully completed a phase 1 first-in-human clinical study of AVA-001 in China for the treatment of relapsed refractory B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (R/R B-ALL). 90% of R/R B-ALL patients achieved complete remission with one dose and within one month of treatment, and then proceeded to a curative-intent allogeneic bone marrow transplant. Also there was minimal and well tolerated side effects with little neurotoxicity or cytokine release. This paradigm of bridging CAR-T cell therapy to bone marrow transplant creates a new horizon with potentially ground breaking commercial application for patients with relapsed/refractory B-ALL and other hematologic cancers.
So far in 2021 Avalon GloboCare (NASDAQ:AVCO) has advanced there research platform substantially by expanding a Co-Development program with MIT using CRISPR based genome editing to combat cancer metastasis. They also announced a collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for development of their FLASH-CAR™ RNA-based cellular therapies includes utilization of Avalon’s new Point-of-Care Modular Autonomous Processing System (PMAPsys™). First FLASH-CAR™ candidate, AVA-011, on-track for clinical study in B-cell lymphoblastic leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients. The FLASH-CAR™ technology modifies patients’ T-cells and natural killer (NK) cells using a ribonucleic acid (RNA)-based platform rather than a viral vector, and is being co-developed with the Company’s strategic partner, Arbele Limited. The adaptable FLASH-CAR™ platform can be used to create personalized cell therapies from a patient’s own cells, as well as “off-the-shelf” cell therapies from a universal donor. By avoiding viral vectors and complicated bio-processing procedures, the FLASH-CAR™ technology significantly reduces manufacturing costs and development times, resulting in more affordable and potentially breakthrough therapies for cancer patients. Avalon’s innovative FLASH-CAR™ technology can be used to generate universal cell therapies that may allow for widespread patient accessibility enabling broader commercial adoption compared to currently available CAR-T cell therapies. Avalon’s first FLASH-CAR™ platform candidate, AVA-011, targets both CD19 and CD22 tumor antigens on cancer cells and is in development for patients with relapsed/refractory B-cell lymphoblastic leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“This is an important milestone in the clinical development and production of AVA-011 and other RNA-based FLASH-CAR™ candidates ahead of the start of our first-in-human clinical trials,” said David Jin, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Avalon GloboCare. “We are excited about our partnership on the PMAPsys™ with UPMC, which we believe will help accelerate the path to bringing our own and third-party cell therapies to market. We are working diligently to fast-track development and commercialization of our cellular immune-oncology therapeutic products, while providing the highest quality and safety standards for our patients.”
Avalaon GloboCare (NASDAQ:AVCO) is teaming up with some of the brightest minds in CAR-T and CRISP based technologies including Dr. Yen-Michael Hsu, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Immunologic Monitoring and Cellular Products Laboratory at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and Dr. Shuguang Zhang at MIT’s Media La to rapidly develop potentially lifesaving technological advancements with major commercial applications. Recently some of the smartest money on Wall Street has been extremely bullish on this specific niche including Catherine Wood at ARK invest, in a recent interview she stated that her ARKG (ARK Genomic) ETF has the most potential upside over the next five years as the fund has been deploying billions to companies that produce or enable CRISPR, another Targeted Therapeutics. Over the past few weeks microcap stocks have been under more than usual pressure resulting in Avalon GloboCare NASDAQ (AVCO) to be trading at their 52 week low at just around S1.00 a share. I strongly believe Avalon’s pipe line along with a market cap of less than 100 million creates a highly asymmetric risk reward opportunity.