New type of cancer vaccine receives approval for clinical trial

Immunicum also secures substantial funding to complete first trial on kidney cancer patients

Swedish company Immunicum, which is developing cancer vaccines, has received approval from the Swedish Medical Products Agency to start its first clinical trial. The study will be conducted on kidney cancer patients at the University Hospital in Uppsala. At the same time, the company says it has secured the largest capital injection in the company's history through a successful new share issue to enable it to complete the clinical trial.

‘It's a big and important step to test the vaccine on humans for the first time,’ said Jamal El-Mosleh, ceo of Immunicum. ‘Our animal studies have shown good results, so we feel safe to continue.’

Immunicum's patented cancer vaccine is based on more than 20 years of research in the field of transplantation immunology and activates the body's own immune system to attack tumour cells. The Nobel Prize in Medicine was recently awarded to the discoverer of dendritic cells and their role in immunological reactions, the same type of cells on which Immunicum bases its vaccines.

‘However, our vaccines differ from other cancer vaccines,’ said El-Mosleh. ‘Traditionally, dendritic cell-based cancer vaccines are made from patients' own cells. This means that each vaccine must be specially made for each patient, which is expensive, complex and takes time. Moreover, it is physically stressful for the patient who is seriously ill.’

Immunicum's vaccine is based on using dendritic cells from healthy individuals and can thus be mass-produced, leading to significant commercial advantages.

The vaccine has been tested in animal studies to examine its therapeutic effect and tumours were reduced in both weight and volume. Toxicity studies have also been conducted to investigate possible side effects, especially with a focus on autoimmune diseases. The study showed no evidence of adverse side-effects.

Now that the Medical Products Agency has given it the green light, a clinical phase I/II trial will be initiated within the next few months on 12 patients with metastatic renal cancer. ‘The study will last for about a year and we will evaluate both safety and efficacy of the vaccine,’ said El-Mosleh.