|Asterias Biotherapeutics Announces First Patient Dosed in First-in-Human Clinical Study of Immunotherapy AST-VAC2 in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer|
“We are excited to have launched this clinical trial using AST-VAC2 for NSCLC,” said the trial’s chief investigator Professor
“We are thankful for Cancer Research UK’s sponsoring the clinical trial and look forward to advancing our immunotherapy strategy around this trial and the earlier Phase 2 trial of AST-VAC1 in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML),” said
“We’re thrilled to be working with Asterias to bring this novel immunotherapy to patients with lung cancer. This cell therapy has massive potential,” said Dr
AST-VAC2 is a “first-in-class” allogeneic cancer immunotherapy that is composed of mature dendritic cells which are designed to kill tumor cells by stimulating immune responses to telomerase, a tumor antigen expressed by over 85% of malignant tumor cells, but not by most normal healthy cells. AST-VAC2 is intended to be available for “on demand” patient use because it is produced from allogeneic pluripotent stem cells that can be manufactured in scale and then cryopreserved.
As currently designed, the clinical study will administer AST-VAC2 in up to 24 subjects with a specific immunological marker called HLA-A2, in one of two cohorts depending on the stage of each subject’s NSCLC. In the first cohort, up to 12 subjects with advanced disease will receive AST-VAC2, and will be followed for safety, immune responses to telomerase, and overall clinical survival. The second cohort will evaluate AST-VAC2 in up to 12 early-stage subjects who have had successful resection of their tumor with no evidence of metastasis, and each patient will be followed for safety, immune responses to telomerase, overall clinical survival and time to relapse. Both cohorts will also have a control group consisting of patients that meet all inclusion/exclusion criteria for the study but who do not have the HLA-A2 marker. The supply of AST-VAC2 to be used in this trial is being manufactured by Cancer Research UK’s Biotherapeutics Development Unit.
The partnership between Asterias and
The results from the Phase 1 clinical trial sponsored and managed by
AST-VAC2 is an innovative immunotherapy product that contains mature dendritic cells derived from pluripotent stem cells. These non-patient specific (allogeneic) AST-VAC2 cells are engineered to express a modified form of telomerase, a protein widely expressed in tumor cells, but rarely found in normal cells. The modified form of telomerase invokes enhanced stimulation of immune responses to the protein. Similar to an earlier, Asterias-sponsored, hematological cancer program which provided proof-of-concept data, the AST-VAC2 dendritic cells instruct the immune system to generate responses against telomerase and, through this mechanism, target tumor cells. AST-VAC2 is based on a specific mode of action that is complementary to and potentially synergistic with other immune therapies such as checkpoint inhibitors or other immune pathway inhibitors.
About Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and the AST-VAC2 Trial
Lung cancer (both small cell and non-small cell) is the leading cause of cancer-related death, accounting for about one-quarter of all cancer deaths and more than colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers combined. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for about 80% to 85% of lung cancers, according to the
As currently designed, the AST-VAC2 Phase 1 clinical trial will enroll up to twenty-four subjects into one of two cohorts, depending on the stage of their non-small cell lung cancer. The first cohort will evaluate AST-VAC2 in up to 12 subjects with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Subjects in this cohort, who carry the major histocompatibility gene, HLA-A2, will receive six weekly injections of AST-VAC2 and will be followed for safety, immune responses to telomerase and overall clinical survival. These survival results will be compared directly to a control group who meet all of the other inclusion/exclusion criteria but do not possess the HLA-A2 gene. Assuming safety is demonstrated in the first cohort, enrollment will advance to a second cohort. In the second cohort, early stage subjects who have had successful resection of their tumor with no evidence of metastasis will be enrolled. Up to 12 subjects in this second cohort who carry the major histocompatibility allele HLA-A2 will receive six, weekly injections of AST-VAC2 and will be followed for safety, immune responses to telomerase, overall clinical survival and time to relapse. These survival results will again be compared directly to a control group who meet all of the inclusion/exclusion criteria of cohort 2 but are not HLA-A2+. Subjects will be followed for one year for immune response to telomerase and for 2 years for the survival endpoints. Asterias and
About Cancer Research UK’s Clinical Development Partnerships
CDP is a
About Cancer Research UK’s Centre for Drug Development
Statements pertaining to future financial and/or operating and/or clinical research results, future growth in research, technology, clinical development, and potential opportunities for Asterias, along with other statements about the future expectations, beliefs, goals, plans, or prospects expressed by management constitute forward-looking statements. Any statements that are not historical fact (including, but not limited to statements that contain words such as "will," "believes," "plans," "anticipates," "expects," "estimates," “explores”) should also be considered to be forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, including, without limitation, risks inherent in the development and/or commercialization of potential products, uncertainty in the results of clinical trials or regulatory approvals, need and ability to obtain future capital, and maintenance of intellectual property rights. Actual results may differ materially from the results anticipated in these forward-looking statements and as such should be evaluated together with the many uncertainties that affect the businesses of Asterias, particularly those mentioned in the cautionary statements found in Asterias' filings with the