Imugene (ASX: IMU) has received a strong boost in protecting its intellectual property for the next 16 years after the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted the immuno-oncology company with a patent for its HER-Vaxx cancer immunotherapy, currently undergoing phase 2 trials for HER-2+ gastric cancer.
HER-Vaxx is a B-cell immunotherapy designed to treat tumours that over-express the HER-2/neu receptor, such as gastric, breast, ovarian, lung and pancreatic cancers.
Breast cancer is particularly destructive because of the large number of women expected to contract breast cancer and the relatively poor survival rates over time.
Imugene is hopeful it can develop an effective vaccine against various cancers by progressing a range of B-cell immunotherapies with the ultimate goal of creating commercially viable treatments that can be applied to assist cancer patients.
A pathway it wants to emulate is one already forged by leading cancer drug Herceptin.
The drug rakes in around US$7 billion in annual sales with cancer rates continuing to remain elevated.
Currently, as many as 270,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the US every year with as many as 41,000 deaths recorded in 2019.
Herceptin is an immune targeted therapy that works by attaching itself to the HER2 receptors on the surface of breast cancer cells and blocking them from receiving growth signals.
If these signals can be successfully blocked, cancer cells cannot grow or spread thereby improving patient outcomes.
Imugene wants to develop a selection of B-cell therapies that can stimulate the patient’s immune system to produce polyclonal antibodies, and very importantly, introduce a slew of benefits including lower costs, better efficacy and lower cancer recurrence rates.
In a statement to the market, Imugene declared that its newly-granted patent titled “A vaccine composition and uses thereof”, protects the method of composition and method of use of Imugene’s HER-Vaxx for the generation of a therapeutic antibody response against HER-2/neu.
HER-Vaxx was developed by scientists at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria as an immunotherapy constructed from several B-cell epitopes.
Both in pre-clinical and phase 1 studies, researchers proved that HER-Vaxx stimulates a potent polyclonal antibody response to HER-2/neu, a well-known and validated cancer target.
HER-Vaxx has successfully completed a phase 1b study in gastric cancer with a phase 2 study in gastric cancer currently ongoing.
Imugene is also developing other B-cell immunotherapies to manufacture vaccines that can stimulate the patient’s immune system while providing advantages over existing synthetic antibodies.
The company’s two other therapies are B-Vaxx and PD1-Vaxx. Both immunotherapies aim to link an immunogenic protein with a B-cell epitope and incorporate an adjuvant to produce a B-cell cancer vaccine that induces the body to produce antibodies against the normal self-proteins, such as HER2 or PD-1.
“Attaining the key US patent is an important milestone. This adds extra value to HER-Vaxx as this will protect it in the world’s largest pharmaceutical market until 2036,” said Ms Leslie Chong, chief executive officer and managing director of Imugene.
This morning’s news pushed Imugene shares up by almost 12% to $0.038.