Scancell has reported promising 5-year survival data for its cancer vaccine SCIB1, with a second trial expected to start later this year.
Scancell has published data from its ongoing Phase I/II trial in patients with stage III and IV melanoma in the journal OncoImmunology. The results support the DNA cancer vaccine SCIB1 as a treatment for late-stage melanoma; Out of 16 patients that were treated with Scancell’s cancer vaccine after surgery, 14 are still alive 5 years later.
Given that survival in late stages of melanoma is between 18 and 62%, the cancer vaccine seems promising. Still, there was a lot of variability in how each patient was treated, and Scancell will need to bring the total number of patients up in upcoming trials to provide more solid statistic data.
Scancell’s SCIB1 is a DNA vaccine encoding an antibody that contains four sequences from two melanoma antigens: gp100 and TRP-2. These antigens stimulate strong immune responses in both CD4 and CD8 T cells.
The company is already planning a Phase II trial in the second half of this year, where SCIB1 will be used in combination with a checkpoint inhibitor. These have become a very popular cancer therapy, with the number of clinical trials testing all kinds of therapies in combination with checkpoint inhibitors rising over 1,000.
Many experts have raised doubts about whether there’s a proper rationale behind most them, or if the companies are just trying to jump on the bandwagon of success of checkpoint inhibitors. Scancell, though, is backed by animal studies that show SCIB1 increases PD-L1 expression on the tumor, achieving 100% survival — a number that is not observed with checkpoint inhibitors alone.
But in the field of cancer vaccines, Scancell could be competing with other European companies with very promising approaches. One of them is BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine, a universal approach technically suitable for all types of tumors that has shown encouraging results in Phase I. Others include Vaximm, which employs live bacteria to vaccinate cancer patients; Targovax, going after new targets for peptide vaccines; and Transgene, which bids for oncolytic viruses.
Originally published on 11/07/2017. Updated on 13/02/2018 to include the peer-reviewed publication of Scancell’s results.
Images via David Litman / Shutterstock; Scancell