Selecta Biosciences has announced it will receive a $3.2 million grant from Skolkovo Foundation to support a Synthetic Vaccine Particle (SVP) immunotherapy targeted at cancers originated by infections with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), such as cervical, head and neck cancers.
HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that can result in 99.7% of all cervical cancers, 72% of all head and neck cancers and up to 55% of oropharyngeal cancers. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that more than 530,000 new cases of cervical cancer worldwide, resulting in 270,000 annual deaths, are derived from HPV infections.
This grant will allow Selecta to advance its investigational SVP immunotherapy from preclinical through early clinical evaluation.
Selecta’s proprietary SVP platform is an innovative technology within the field of immunotherapeutics and vaccines, allowing the improvement of efficiency and safety profiles.
SVP immunotherapies have the capacity to activate the patient’s cytolytic T-lymphocytes (CTL), which can target and kill tumor cells. This type of biotechnology can be used alone or in combination with other forms of immunotherapies, creating a long-lasting anti-tumoral response.
“These funds will help Selecta to rapidly validate our SVP platform in immuno-oncology, the most promising field of cancer therapy today,” Werner Cautreels, PhD, President and CEO of Selecta, said in a press release. “With this grant, Selecta’s past and committed grant funding now exceeds $20 million, strategically enabling us to work on therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines in parallel to our core focus on antigen-specific immune tolerance.”
Previous preclinical studies had already showed that SVP immunotherapeutics could efficiently work in synergy with the immune checkpoint inhibitors anti-PD-1 and anti-PD-L1, in different types of cancers.
Due to SVP immunotherapeutics’ immune-activating properties, Selecta expects to enlarge its CTL platform beyond HPV-related cancers, as well as chronic infections.
“We see tremendous potential to leverage the durable CTL-activating SVP immunotherapeutics in conjunction with the emerging class of checkpoint inhibitors,” Takashi Kishimoto, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of Selecta, added in the press release. “Immune checkpoint inhibitors relieve the immunosuppressive microenvironment found in tumors and chronic infections, while our SVP products elicit a focused and durable immune response specifically targeted against tumors and infected cells”.