Advaxis’ Immunotherapy and the Tumor Microenvironment
By now you’ve heard me and several of our guest bloggers mention how hot the cancer immunotherapy space is and you must be thinking that if it is so hot, then there has to be lots of competition. Well, you are right, there are several biotech companies developing cancer immunotherapies with great promise. However, we believe our immunotherapy goes a step beyond the others with an essential element that differentiates us from the competition.
One of the greatest criticisms of immunotherapies in development and on the market is that they extend the life of a patient, but often fail to reduce the tumor burden. Data from preclinical studies published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer show that our immunotherapy can reduce and/or eliminate tumors by itself. This same activity was also observed in our Phase 2 study in some patients with recurrent cervical cancer treated with ADXS-HPV alone or in combination with chemotherapy. To our knowledge, Advaxis immunotherapies are the only cancer immunotherapies to date that reduce both Treg cells and MDSC cells in the tumor microenvironment. These are the types of cells that have been derailing immunotherapy development for decades. They serve as a natural control to keep the immune system in check and typically prevent it from causing collateral damage to normal tissues if it attacks a pathogen in the vicinity. They also help “stand down” the immune attack once a threat has been eliminated. These protective cells can build up in the tumor microenvironment and errantly provide the same protection to tumors that should be reserved for normal tissues. Even if the immune system’s fighter cells make it to the tumor, the Tregs and MDSCs neutralize any that manage to infiltrate the tumor microenvironment. Once protected at a level sufficient to thwart off an immune attack, the tumors can grow aggressively.
The site of the tumor is where the immune system needs to be able to fight without restraint and these defenses have to be removed for an immunotherapy to work. As shown in these preclinical studies, our immunotherapy can both generate tumor-fighting T cells and reduce the number and function of those cancer-enabling cells within the tumors, neutralizing their defense. We have seen this in preclinical studies of all of our immunotherapies, regardless of tumor type, with virtually a complete loss of cancer-enabling capability across all cancers tested. No matter how powerful the anti-cancer force, if a tumor can use the immune system’s own brakes to slow it down, nothing will happen.
We strive to be the leader of cancer immunotherapies with our technology. The unique properties of the Advaxis immunotherapy platform, not only enable it to eliminate tumors by itself, but can enhance the activity of other immunotherapies, like PD-1 antibodies, when used in combination. An immunotherapy that reduces tumor defenses is critical to the field’s success and studies continue to show that our proprietary platform does exactly that.
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Gregory T. Mayes, Chief Operating Officer
Forward Looking Statements
This blog may contain forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to: statements as to the anticipated timing of clinical studies and other business developments, statements as to the development of new constructs, expectations as to the adequacy of our cash balances to support our operations for specified periods of time and as to the nature and level of cash expenditures, expectations as to market opportunities, our ability to take advantage of those opportunities, and the risk factors set forth from time to time in Advaxis' SEC filings, including but not limited to its report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2012, which is available at www.sec.gov. The Company undertakes no obligation to revise these forward-looking statements which may be made to reflect the events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events, except as required by law. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements.