Vaxil BioTherapeutics, a biotechnical company based in Ness Ziona, near Tel Aviv, Israel has produced a ground-breaking therapeutic vaccine for cancer patients which could prevent about 90 percent of cancers from coming back.
Vaxil was founded in 2006 by Dr. Lior Carmon and the vaccine is now in clinical trials at the Hadassah University Medical Centre in Jerusalem. The vaccine could be available as early as 2017 to administer on a regular basis, not only to help treat cancer but in order to keep the disease from recurring.
The vaccine is being tested against a type of blood cancer, ‘multiple myeloma’. If the substance works as hoped, its platform technology, VaxHit could be applied to 90 percent of all known cancers, including prostate and breast cancer, solid and non-solid tumours.
“In cancer, the body knows something is not quite right but the immune system doesn’t know how to protect itself against the tumour like it does against an infection or virus. This is because cancer cells are the body’s own cells gone wrong,” says Julian Levy, the company’s CFO. “Coupled with that, a cancer patient has a depressed immune system, caused both by the illness and by the treatment.” The trick is to activate a compromised immune system to mobilize against the threat.
A traditional vaccine helps the body’s immune system fend off foreign invaders such as bacteria or viruses, and is administered to people who have not yet had the ailment. Therapeutic vaccines, like the one Vaxil has developed, are given to sick people, and work more like a drug.
The new vaccine works by activating the immune system by “training” T-cells to search and destroy cells with the MUC1 molecule, typically found only on cancer cells. More than 90 percent of common solid tumor cancers bear the MUC1 molecule, as well as many non-solid tumors, including lymphoma, leukemia and multiple myeloma.
Advanced-stage cancer will still require chemotherapy or surgery to remove a large tumor, Vaxil CEO Julian Levy noted, but if the cancer is brought down to size, the body will then be able to fight it, with ImMucin seen as a long-term approach to prevent recurrence.
According to Data monitor, the value of the market for cancer vaccines is expected to reach $4-5 billion by 2014.