Updated
December 5th, 2019

Head & Neck Cancer Vaccine Candidate Receives About $8 Million in Funding

MaxiVAX MVX-ONCO-1 triggers a natural immune response mechanism via innovative technology to eliminate cancer cells

older couple sitting on a bench

A Switzerland-based biotech company developing novel anti-cancer vaccines announced that it had been awarded a European Commission grant of about $3 million dollars by the Horizon 2020 EIC Accelerator Programme.

In addition, MaxiVAX SA said in a press release published on November 27, 2019, that it has closed an investment of approximately $5 million dollars.

These funds will be used by MaxiVAX to support the clinical development programs which include the multi-centric efficacy Phase 2 trial for advanced, refractory Head & Neck Cancers currently ongoing in Switzerland.

The new funds will also be used to scale up production of the company’s lead compound, MVX-ONCO-1.

MVX-ONCO-1 is the first personalized cell-based cancer immunotherapy using encapsulation cell technology. It benefits those patients whose immune system is still functioning at a certain base level.

This therapy is individualized and can be applied to any cancer type. 

MVX-ONCO-1 is a biological product made up of 2 components. 

The 1st consists of complete tumor cells taken from each individual patient and represents the best repertoire of antigens, i.e., cancer-specific targets against which a coordinated immune response can be directed. 

The cancer cells are lethally irradiated before being implanted subcutaneously in the patient.

The 2nd component consists of the adjuvant, or booster. 

Adding a strong adjuvant is essential for triggering an efficient immune response. The release of the potent adjuvant GM-CSF, a white blood cell growth factor, is obtained by the implantation of a biocompatible capsule that contains a cell line genetically modified to produce the strong adjuvant. 

The encapsulation of the GM-CSF-producing cells allows the continuous, in-situ delivery of the immune-boosting agent over 7 days at the site of immunization. 

This is a critical parameter for successful and sustained immunization against the cancer cells.

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The completed Phase 1 clinical program demonstrated that MVX-ONCO-1 was safe and well-tolerated, with encouraging efficacy results.

“Head and neck cancer” is the term used to describe a number of different malignant tumors that develop in or around the throat, larynx, nose, sinuses, and mouth.

Most head and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.

Head and neck cancer account for about 4 percent of all cancers in the USA. During 2019, an estimated 65,410 people will develop head and neck cancer, with about 14,000 related fatalities, reports Cancer.net.

While younger people can develop the disease, most people are older than 50 when they are diagnosed.

There are 5 main types of head and neck cancer, each named according to the part of the body where they develop, such as:

  • Laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer. The larynx is commonly called the voice box. This tube-shaped organ in the neck that is important for breathing, talking, and swallowing. It is located at the top of the windpipe, or trachea. The hypopharynx is also called the gullet. It is the lower part of the throat that surrounds the larynx.
  • Nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer. The nasal cavity is the space just behind the nose where air passes on its way to the throat. The paranasal sinuses are the air-filled areas that surround the nasal cavity.
  • Nasopharyngeal cancer. The nasopharynx is the air passageway at the upper part of the throat behind the nose.
  • Oral and oropharyngeal cancer. The oral cavity includes the mouth and tongue. The oropharynx includes the middle of the throat, from the tonsils to the tip of the voice box.
  • Salivary gland cancer. The salivary gland produces saliva. Saliva is the fluid that is released into the mouth to keep it moist and that contains enzymes that begin breaking down food. Read more about salivary gland cancer.

Other types of cancer can also be located in the head and neck region, but the diagnosis and treatment are much different.

MVX-ONCO-1 is the company’s first compound, for which there is IP protection in both the United States and the European Union.

The company said it will also start preparations for an international Phase 2 clinical study in a yet to be disclosed rare cancer indication, for which the FDA accepted the Investigational New Drug (IND) application in July 2018.

MaxiVAX SA is a private Swiss clinical-stage biotech company with a novel, patient-specific and personalized active immunotherapy treatment for cancer.

Cancer news published by Vax Before Cancer