Scancell, developer of novel immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer, announced an international, multi-disciplinary team of the leading cancer immunotherapy scientists in Europe and the US, led by Professor Lindy Durrant, Chief Scientific Officer of Scancell and in partnership with Genentech, BioNtech and ISA pharmaceuticals, has been shortlisted to the final stages of Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge — an ambitious series of £20 million global grants tackling some of the toughest questions in cancer research.
The team will collaborate on the project Project Blueprint: Eradicating established tumours with unique cancer vaccines. Project Blueprint aims to eliminate tumours by treating patients with specific vaccines.
The Grand Challenge award aims to revolutionise how cancer is diagnosed, prevented and/or treated by providing international multi-disciplinary teams the freedom to evaluate novel approaches, at scale, in the pursuit of life changing discoveries.
Professor Lindy Durrant will lead an international world-class team to investigate the full potential of the tumour vaccine concept by building blueprints for an effective therapy for patients with most types of cancer.
The project focus will be on head and neck cancer, glioblastoma, lung and pancreatic cancer — all of which currently have a poor prognosis — in which treatment with Modi-3, a product generated from Scancell’s Moditope platform will be assessed alongside vaccines targeting new mutations within individual patients’ tumours.
Each team receives seed-funding of up to £30,000 to draft their full research proposal with the winners announced in autumn 2018. This is the second round of Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge award and in 2017 four teams were awarded up to £20 million each.
Professor Lindy Durrant, Chief Scientific Officer at Scancell and Principal Investigator of Project Blueprint, said: “We are thrilled to be on the CRUK Grand Challenge shortlist. This brings us one step closer to delivering our cancer vaccine blueprint. We believe this approach will provide an effective, novel therapy and facilitate the development of a comprehensive strategy of combinatorial cancer treatment for patients with most types of cancer. Our unique academic-biotech-clinical partnership, facilitating access to reagents and clinical trials, positions us for success in this space.”
Dr Cliff Holloway, Chief Executive Officer, Scancell, said: “We are very excited to be an integral member of the team shortlisted for this prestigious award. If successful, this significant, non-dilutive funding will allow us to extend the utility of our Moditope platform to develop a new vaccine, Modi-3, in a range of cancers beyond those targeted by our other Moditope candidates, Modi-1 and Modi-2. This project also allows our technology to be further validated by an exceptional team of scientists. Project Blueprint envisages a future in which every cancer patient will be offered, as a standard-of-care, a therapeutic vaccine that is tailored to their genetic and antigenic profile”.
Dr Iain Foulkes, Executive Director of research and innovation at Cancer Research UK, said: “Round two of Grand Challenge is proving to be incredibly inspiring and the ambitious applications reflect the quality of global researchers this initiative has attracted to beat cancer sooner. We are delighted with the teams we have shortlisted and look forward to hearing more about how they plan to tackle the toughest challenges in cancer research.”
Dr Rick Klausner, Chair of Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge advisory panel, said: “The challenges set for Grand Challenge have once again attracted some of the best researchers in the world. I am looking forward to see how global collaboration could bring together diverse expertise, invigorate areas of research and overcome barriers in ways that are not happening at this point in time.”