Phylogica (ASX: PYC) has praised the effectiveness of its Functional Penetrating Peptide (FPP) technology to stimulate an immune response and extend cancer survival rates through recent testing on mice.
The biotechnology company said first results showed that when combining FPPs with a tumour antigen, the average survival of mice with melanoma was extended by almost 100%.
In collaboration with the Telethon Kids Institute Cancer Immunology Unit, Phylogica has generated a cancer vaccine that specifically targets part of the immune system called ‘cross presenting dendritic cells’. The role of these cells is to identify viruses and other invaders including cancer.
Once a cancer is identified, the dendritic cells then break it down and present parts of the cancer (peptides) to T cells (a type of white blood cell). The T cells then expand in number and go on to attack and eliminate the cancer cells.
During laboratory testing, melanoma-afflicted mice were studied in three control groups – one was treated with a tumour antigen, another with the antigen attached to an FPP, and a third placebo group known to have no effect.
Results showed that although the number of T cells increased in both groups of treated mice, the FPP antigen version was significantly better.
In addition, a fourth group of healthy mice were infected with the Herpes Simplex Virus to use as a comparison, as this indicates the strength of the T cells’ response to an active viral infection. The FPP antigen group also appeared to produce more cells than the HSV-infected mice.
The FPP cancer vaccine was then tested in a cancer model to see whether the expansion of these attacking cells had a meaningful effect on mouse survival.
Results demonstrated a significant improvement in tumour-free survival, from 7 days for the placebo group and 12 days for the antigen-alone group, to 23 days or more for the FPP-antigen control group.
Phylogica chief scientific officer Dr Robert Hayes said the results represented a “potential ground-breaking methodology in cancer vaccines and infectious disease, supporting further work”.
“Personalised vaccination strategies are showing greater potential as evidenced by recent clinical trials, and therapeutic cancer vaccines will soon move into the mainstream where we anticipate Phylogica’s FPPs may play an important role,” Hayes said.
The company also reported it had filed a new Australian provisional patent relating to conjugates for use in the generation of an immune response utilising Phylogica’s FPPs and endosomal escape technology.
According to the company, the results of the recent study provided further evidence of in vivo (meaning “in a living organism”, i.e. mice) efficacy to support patent information.
The Phylogica-Telethon Kids Institute collaboration are also planning repeat experiments against additional controls, as well as trial therapeutic vaccination experiments.
Shares in Phylogica were up more than 9% on the news by close of trade on Monday.