Start-Up Previews (6/07)
A preview of the emerging health care companies profiled in the current issue of Start-Up. This month's profile group: A New Perspective on Cancer Immunotherapy, features profiles of Apthera, Juvaris BioTherapeutics, Pique Therapeutics and Vaxon. Plus these Start-Ups Across Health Care: Acceleron Pharma, CTG Pharma, ImVisioN, and Innovent Medical.
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Vaxon Biotech is developing therapeutic vaccines that stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells without harming normal tissue, for a range of indications including prostate, lung, breast, hepatocellular, pancreatic and colon cancer. Based near Paris, Vaxon says it is the first company to develop therapeutic vaccines to treat existing cancers using optimized cryptic peptides, which appear to escape tolerance mechanisms, suggesting their potential in cancer immunotherapy.
Apthera was formed two years ago to further develop NeuVax, an investigational therapeutic cancer vaccine. NeuVax, which combines the T-cell peptide E75 with GM-CSF, is poised to enter Phase III testing in early-stage breast cancer patients to prevent recurrence of the disease and is also in early trials in prostate cancer,
Many attempts to develop therapeutic cancer vaccines have focused on boosting immune system response to vanquish naturally immunogenic tumors. Pique Therapeutics is instead creating vaccines against non-immunogenic tumors, which since they don't stimulate the immune system, have never developed a way to evade it. Pique reasons that if those tumors can be made visible to the immune system, they will prove more susceptible to being overcome than tumors that are accustomed to fighting.