Ohio State, MedVax partner up for clinical trials of peptide vaccines for HER2-related cancers

An academia-industry partnership between Ohio State University and biopharmaceutical company MedVax Technologies will take a new vaccine aimed at preventing and treating certain kinds of cancers through clinical development. The vaccine, developed by Ohio State researchers, targets cancers associated with the HER2 protein, which is thought to play a role not only in breast cancer […]

An academia-industry partnership between Ohio State University and biopharmaceutical company MedVax Technologies will take a new vaccine aimed at preventing and treating certain kinds of cancers through clinical development.

The vaccine, developed by Ohio State researchers, targets cancers associated with the HER2 protein, which is thought to play a role not only in breast cancer but in some kinds of ovarian, lung, colon, pancreatic and gastric cancers.

Under the terms of the deal, Miami-based MedVax will fund a phase 1b clinical trial of the vaccine at the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center involving patients with breast, ovarian and gastric cancers.

The vaccine demonstrated safety in an earlier phase 1 trial, and several patients with metastatic cancers benefited from it, according to Ohio State. Between 30 and 60 patients with each type of cancer will be included in the upcoming efficacy trial.

Pravin Kaumaya, who has led development of the vaccine at Ohio State, told Columbus Business First that it’s made from a chain of peptides and is designed to trigger a patient’s body to produce antibodies that attack tumors.

Herceptin is an immunotherapy for HER2-positive breast cancer that’s already FDA approved and on the market. But it uses synthetic copies of antibodies produced in a laboratory to stimulate the immune system and often comes with toxic side effects,  said Kaumaya, who added that his vaccine targets the body’s own antibodies.

Groups at MD Anderson Cancer Center and University of Washington are among others also working on peptide vaccines for HER2-positive cancers.

Development of the vaccine has been funded by some $15 million in grants from the NIH and additional funding from Fore Cancer Research and Pelotonia, an annual bike race started by the director of the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center, Mike Caligiuri, to raise money for cancer research.

“Our hope is that this partnership with MedVax Technologies will complete this effort and successfully bring these anticancer vaccines to the clinic,” Caligiuri said in a statement.

Kaumaya told Columbus Business First the deal could result in royalties and milestone payments worth seven figures if the vaccine succeeds in clinical trials and is approved by the FDA.

MedVax has three additional vaccines in phase 2 development.