Cancer Vaccine Candidate ImmuneFx Enters Human Study

Morphogenesis ImmuneFx cancer vaccine studies impact on cutaneous melanoma with accessible lesions
bacteria cells
(Vax Before Cancer)

Florida scientists Michael and Patricia Lawman imagine a day when cancer could be treated with a single vaccination, with no debilitating side effects. 

And these scientists believe that day is coming sooner rather than later.

This husband-and-wife Ph.D. team has developed a “cancer vaccine,” which is undergoing clinical trials at Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center, reported the Tampa Bay Times on August 12, 2019. 

This vaccine candidate is called ImmuneFx (IFx), which helps train the immune system to identify and destroy cancerous tumor cells.

To achieve that goal, ImmuneFx forces those tumor cells to come out of hiding.

The cancer vaccine ImmuneFx does this by expressing a bacterial antigen on the surface of a patient’s own tumor cells, IFx primes and educates the immune system to destroy tumor cells throughout the body without harming healthy cells and tissues.

IFx’s ability to prime and present the complete repertoire of tumor antigens to the immune system in such a way that evokes a broad spectrum of immune response including both innate and adaptive immunity.

After years of pre-human study, Morphogenesis began testing the vaccine on companion animals with veterinary partners.

During a study performed on horses, 77 percent of them showed a significant reduction in cancer tumors.

“Cancer cells mutate and change so fast, it can be difficult for the immune system to spot them, said Dr. Patricia Lawman. “So the vaccine uses cell and gene therapy to force those cells to express a specific bacterial antigen on their surface, making them easy for the immune system to identify.”

This way, a patient’s immune system can fight off cancer cells on its own, without the help of radiation, chemotherapy or other treatments — and without the harmful side effects that come with them.

ImmuneFx is being tested in clinical trials on humans with cutaneous melanoma, one of the most common types of skin cancer.

The ImmuneFx vaccine candidate is expected to move onto the second phase of clinical trials in 2020, when it will be administered to a larger group of patients at 3 test sites, including Moffitt.

Additionally, the IFx-Hu2.0 vaccine candidate is currently being tested in a small Phase I clinical trial for Stage III/IV unresectable cutaneous melanoma.

The company says ‘IFx is a true multi-indication cancer vaccine that effectively combines cell and gene therapy to mobilize multiple components of the innate and adaptive immune systems that target the entire antigenic repertoire of heterologous tumors by maximizing antigen presentation and inter-antigenic epitope spreading in a clinically relevant manner.’

Morphogenesis said they have raised over $27 million in funding for research related to the vaccine and is closing in on another round of nearly $45 million.

“It's still too early in the federal regulatory process to tell when the vaccine might be available on a larger scale.”

“It takes years to accumulate this information,” she said, “and we have to find funding along the way to keep it going,” Dr. Lawman said.