“Through this collaboration we are expanding into additional preventive and therapeutic areas and we look forward to seeing the development of this ovarian cancer vaccine,” Vincent Tuohy, PhD, an immunologist at the Cleveland Clinic who has been working on the new vaccine, said in a press release.
“Research into cancer therapies has typically focused on attacking the disease after a patient has been diagnosed, but if we could immunize people to prevent the cancer from ever forming, it could represent a paradigm shift for patients, their caregivers and the healthcare system,” Tuohy said.
The new vaccine is designed to target a portion of the anti-müllerian hormone receptor 2 (AMHR2-ED), a protein receptor found in different types of ovarian cancer.
In normal conditions, AMHR2-ED interacts with the anti-müllerian hormone (AMH), a hormone that plays a key role during sex development in an unborn baby. Its main function is to prevent the development of female reproductive organs in fetuses carrying one X and one Y chromosome to ensure normal male development.
Although AMH and its receptor are important early on in life, they are no longer needed as a person ages. For that reason, the proteins cease to be produced over time, and in healthy adults are nearly undetectable.
However, Tuohy found that AMHR2-ED and other unnecessary or “retired” proteins often are found in cancer cells, making them a promising therapeutic target for a vaccine.
This is not the first time both organizations have collaborated to develop a cancer vaccine. In the past, Anixa and the Cleveland Clinic jointly developed a preventive breast cancer vaccine, that also was based on Tuohy’s research on “retired” proteins. This breast cancer vaccine is expected to enter clinical testing in early 2021.
“We are pleased to broaden our relationship and to expand our work with Dr. Tuohy. Though it is still early days for the experimental ovarian cancer vaccine, pre-clinical research suggests the potential of this technology as both a prophylactic that prevents the occurrence of cancer, and a therapeutic that treats women with ovarian cancer,” said Amit Kumar, PhD, president and CEO of Anixa.
“We see this vaccine as a complementary component to our growing immuno-oncology portfolio, which includes a CAR-T therapy targeting ovarian cancer, for which we anticipate filing an IND [investigational new drug application] shortly,” Kumar added.