Wednesday, 7 March 2012

ImmunoCellular licenses key dendritic cell technology from University of Pennsylvania

ImmunoCellular Therapeutics (OTCBB:IMUC) said Tuesday it has inked a deal with the University of Pennsylvania for an exclusive worldwide license of a patent-pending technology for the production of high-activity dendritic cells.

The license covers the application of this technology to the development of therapeutics for all indications except breast cancer and ductal carcinoma, the company said.

The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The licensed technology underlies ICT-107, ImmunoCellular's lead dendritic cell-based cancer vaccine candidate for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive type of brain cancer.

ICT-107, which is currently in phase two trials, is a dendritic cell-based vaccine that works by activating a patient's immune system against specific tumour associated antigens for glioblastoma multiforme.

This is done by removing dendritic cells from a patient, loading them with the tumour-related antigens, and re-injecting them back into the patient's body to trigger an immune response against cancer cells exhibiting these antigens.

Cancer stem cells are thought to be the originators of common tumour cells, and lead to cancer’s re-growth after chemotherapy. It is believed that destroying the cancer stem cells will allow for longer survival, without relapse.

“This licensing agreement represents an expansion of our intellectual property surrounding the technology underlying our lead product candidate, ICT-107," said president and CEO, Manish Singh.

"In addition to contributing to the powerful immune responses to ICT-107 we have observed to date, this technology also enables the manufacture of multiple vaccine shots from a single production run, allowing us to significantly reduce the cost of manufacturing the vaccine.

"As we continue advancing our ongoing Phase II trial in glioblastoma, we are confident that will continue to realize the benefits of the enhanced efficacy and efficiency of this innovative dendritic-cell production method.”

The licensed technology from the University of Pennsylvania, developed by Brian J. Czerniecki, M.D., allows the development of dendritic cells designed to trigger powerful and targeted immune responses to specific cancer antigens.

In the natural human immune system, dendritic cells are responsible for capturing, processing and presenting antigens to T-cells in the immune system, which in turn target the antigens and destroy them.

These cells' conversion from antigen-capturing to antigen-presenting mode, known as maturation, relies on the production of special messenger cells known as cytokines. The licensed technology produces dendritic cells that express "very high levels of the cytokines interleukin (IL) -12 and –IP-10", which have been shown to play a key role in initiating T-cell response, ImmunoCellular said.

ImmunoCellular Therapeutics is a Los Angeles-based clinical-stage company that is developing immune-based therapies for the treatment of brain and other cancers.

Progression-free and overall survival times for GBM patients treated with ICT-107 during the company's phase one trial of the drug continue to be substantially longer than those associated with standard of care (SOC) alone, ImmunoCellular said.

In September 2011, ImmunoCellular reported its three-year data, which indicated an overall survival of 55 percent, compared to 16 percent based on historical SOC.

Of the 16 newly diagnosed patients who received ICT-107, 38 percent continue to sh

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