Another novel approach to cancer treatment was presented by Jacques Bartholeyns, Ph.D., director of strategy and IP at IDM Pharma (www.idm-biotech.com). The first immunotherapies being developed by IDM are designed to activate macrophage activity (either in vivo or in vitro) so that macrophages recognize and destroy tumor cells.
Dr. Bartholeyns presented results of a Phase III clinical trial of Junovan, a small molecule based on a synthetic analogue of bacterial cell wall component that activates macrophages in the body. The trial showed that out of 664 patients with osteosarcoma, a significant increase in their disease-free survival and in the survival was seen in patients treated with Junovan.
Since Junovan is stimulating the bodys own defenses, the treatment was well tolerated, even combined with standard chemotherapy, Dr. Bartholeyns stated. Junovan has been granted orphan drug status in the United States and the European Union, and we expect this drug to come to market in 2007.
Dr. Bartholeyns also presented an alternative method of inducing specific anticancer immunity into the body. We use dendritic cells derived from the patients own white blood cells and expose them to tumor cell antigens. We then obtained up to 20 doses of these activated white blood cells and injected them back into the patient in order to stimulate the immune system to recognize and kill tumor cells that display these antigens on their surface. Using this approach we have three products being tested in the clinic.
Phase II trial data on the therapeutic vaccine effect of Uvidem, a treatment for melanoma, which is being jointly developed with Sanofi-Aventis, was also presented. The data shows that 10 of the 15 patients treated with Uvidem presented immune responses, and some presented stabilization of their melanomas, according to Dr. Bartholeyns.
Our approach aims at boosting anti-tumor immunity, and we have five products in clinical trials, one of which could be available in as little as two years. We believe this approach will not only prolong life for cancer patients, but will make the treatments less unpleasant for patients to take, thus preserving their quality of life, Dr. Bartholeyns stated.