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About Acute Myeloid Leukemia
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. AML is the most common type of acute leukemia and has the potential for rapid progression, if untreated. In AML, the bone marrow produces an excess number of immature cells known as blasts. In AML, these blasts fail to mature into normal red and white blood cells. Instead, the blasts proliferate and accumulate in the bone marrow and peripheral blood, leading to deficiencies in normal mature cells. These deficiencies, often referred to as cytopenias, can induce several adverse effects including anemias and susceptibility to infections. Current treatment strategies for AML are associated with significant morbidities and in most instances, AML leads to death.
Approximately 20,500 new cases of AML are diagnosed in the U.S. annually. AML remains a high unmet clinical need, particularly in patients over the age of 60 years who face poor outcomes and have limited therapeutic options. Treatment and prognosis in AML is strongly influenced by a patient's age and tumor profile. Successful treatment and survival of advanced age patients or those with a high risk profile is very poor, with a four year relapse-free survival of 10% – 20% (Rolig et al, 2011). Detailed characterizations of genetic abnormalities associated with AML have elucidated their high number and relative complexity, making development of targeted therapeutics to these mutations very challenging. For this reason, broad immunotherapy approaches such as autologous cell vaccines are particularly promising.
AST-VAC1 is a cancer immunotherapy, consisting of autologous mature antigen-presenting dendritic cells pulsed with a messenger RNA for the protein component of human telomerase (hTERT) and a portion of a lysosomal targeting signal (LAMP). hTERT is a common protein in tumor cells and is responsible for the increased proliferative lifespan of cancer cells. In AST-VAC1, the dendritic cells present telomerase to the immune system to induce T cells to target and kill hTERT-expressing tumor cells. The LAMP signal allows AST-VAC1 to stimulate both cytotoxic and helper T cell responses to telomerase, critical elements to induce and maintain immune responses that kill tumor cells. In
Because of the widespread expression of telomerase in the majority of cancers, AST-VAC1 is a platform immunotherapeutic that could be used alone or in conjunction with other therapeutics such as immune checkpoint inhibitors to target immune-based destruction of tumors.
About Accelerated Approval
Drug companies are still required to conduct studies to confirm the anticipated clinical benefit. These studies are known as phase 4 confirmatory trials. If the confirmatory trial shows that the drug actually provides a clinical benefit, then the
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Dan L. Lawrence, 510-775-0510
EVC Group, Inc.
Michael Polyviou, 646-445-4800
Gotham Communications, LLC
Bill Douglass, 646-504-0890
Robert H. Uhl, 858-356-5932