Cancer immunotherapy is the concept of harnessing our own immune system to fight against cancer cells. The most attractive features of immunotherapy include relatively low toxicities compared to traditional therapies (surgery, chemotherapy and radiation), the possibility of eliminating distant metastases and the potential of preventing relapses. After decades of research, its therapeutic efficacy has finally been recognized and a number of approaches has been approved by the FDA over the past 10 years. Dendritic cell vaccine and checkpoint blockade strategies were among the first to enter the clinic, with many other strategies such as peptide vaccine, whole cell tumor vaccine, and adoptive T cell transfer (with Chimeric Antigen Receptors) etc. closely following in clinical trials.
Immunophotonics is developing a novel in situ autologous cancer vaccine (InCVAX) by combining thermal laser phototherapy with immunotherapy. InCVAX is a two-step procedure: (1) Delivery of low-power thermal laser to any accessible tumor to cause partial cell death, increase tumor immunogenicity by releasing tumor antigens and Damage Associated Molecular Patterns (DAMPs). This is followed immediately by (2) injection of our proprietary immunostimulant, N-dihydro-acetylglucosamine (GC), into the laser-treated region to stimulate antigen presenting cells. These two steps work synergistically to enhance the systemic anti-tumor T cell response which is capable of eliminating both primary and metastatic cancers in some patients with advanced, stage III/IV, breast cancer with minimal toxicity. Our approach has the unique benefits of stimulating an immune response against a wide array of tumor antigens, and thus the potential to induce a strong, comprehensive and long-term anti-tumor protection in patients with minimal costs.
Following early data showing efficacy in breast cancer patients, a multi-center, randomized clinical trial is currently underway in South America to consolidate the findings. In addition, we have extended our research of InCVAX to other tumor models and to better understand the mechanism of how GC stimulate the immune system, primarily through activation of antigen presenting cells (APCs). With our data showing therapeutic efficacy of inCVAX in animal and human models, we are confident that inCVAX can bring significant benefit to metastatic cancer patients in the near future.
Samuel Siu Kit Lam and Wei R. Chen, "InCVAX, a novel in situ autologous cancer vaccine (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10065, Biophotonics and Immune Responses XII, 100650A (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 30, 2017; Published: 19 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2256214.5379284542001.
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