OncoSec Medical Incorporated (OncoSec), a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing DNA-based intratumoral immunotherapies with an investigational technology, ImmunoPulse, for treatment of cancer, presented recent progress advances in the field of electroporation (EP) and the future of methods using catheter-based devices to perform minimally invasive intratumoral immunotherapy treatment at the First World Congress on Electroporation and Pulsed Electric Fields in Biology, Medicine and Food & Environmental Technologies,
Organized by COST TD1104 Action and held during the week of September 6th to 10th, 2015, at the Grand Hotel Bernardin Portoroz in Portoroz, Slovenia.
Organized with the intent of bringing together people from different disciplines possessing diverse expertise, who are involved in basic research or are developing applications based on electroporation and the use of pulsed electric fields of high intensity, the conference goal was to create an environment stimulating interdisciplinary interactions, to present latest achievements and demonstrate current knowledge.
In a keynote presentation entitled: “Advances in Clinical Electroporation: Tissue Sensing, Feedback Control, and Catheter Technology,” OncoSec’s Chief Scientific Officer Robert H. Pierce, MD discussed the company’s advances in researching intratumoral gene electro-transfer, using ‘smart’ tissue-sensing technology and development of catheter-based electrodes, enabling treatment of deep and visceral tumors.
“We are excited to be presenting our engineering advances at the First World Congress,” said Dr. Pierce. “The development of minimally-invasive electroporation devices capable of high-efficiency delivery of immunotherapeutic genes into tumors located anywhere in the body is critical to establishing intratumoral EP-mediated gene therapy as a standard therapeutic modality in immuno-oncology.”
OncoSec’s New Catheter Electrode Technology
Designed to be compatible with standard medical instrumentation, OncoSec’s new catheter-based electrodes allow access to deep and visceral tumors where they are capable of anchoring to and treating the tumor using OncoSec’s proprietary technology. These all-in-one devices have the ability to inject a DNA-based agent, while deploying electrodes thereby facilitating performance of electroporation in a single procedure. Additionally, the devices feature adjustable needle and electrode penetration depth, allowing clinicians to treat tumors of varying dimensions in order to execute minimally invasive intratumoral immunotherapy.
Development of Tissue Sensing and Feedback Control
“OncoSec is developing ‘smart’ electroporation technology capable of tissue sensing and real-time feedback control of electroporation pulse trains in order to attain optimal gene transfer and minimal electroporation-mediated tissue damage,” explained Dr. Pierce, adding: “Taken together, these engineering advances can enable access and high-efficiency gene delivery to tumors throughout the body. This is key as we move forward in developing OncoSec’s pipeline of novel intratumoral therapies.”
“Our partnership with Rev.1 Engineering and internal bioengineering expertise have allowed OncoSec to enhance our ImmunoPulse platform and position the Company as a leader in gene electro-transfer technologies in cancer immunotherapy,” says Punit Dhillon, co-founder, President and CEO of OncoSec. “We are also strengthening our intellectual property portfolio in the area of gene and drug delivery via electroporation to reach visceral tumors and enhance the uptake of therapeutic agents.”
An advocate of both cancer research and the advancement of healthcare availability,Mr. Dhillon, now 35, who became one of the youngest persons in North America to be appointed vice president of a publicly traded biotech company when he was 27, created OncoSec with a vision of advancing cancer treatments that save lives and protect patients’ quality of life. For example, in an OncoSec clinical trial for Merkel Cell Carcinoma, a deadly skin cancer with rising incidence, and with an average survival rate of only five years for those who are diagnosed, the company reports that several patients have seen a complete response, meaning their tumors are now gone.
Skin cancer rates have been rising for three decades, particularly among women younger than 40, and Oncosec notes that Melanoma is now a greater risk for young women than breast cancer. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetimes, and each year more than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed in more than 2 million Americans, including an estimated 76,690 Americans diagnosed with melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, in 2013. OncoSec says it is committed to bringing proven skin cancer treatments to the market quickly, so persons suffering today can have hope for tomorrow.
OncoSec’s proprietary technology uses a procedure called ImmunoPulse which delivers brief electrical pulses to temporarily open up the pores of cancerous cells, allowing the tumor to be injected with immunestimulating interleukin (IL) -12 followed by more pulses that keep the pores open so that the anti-cancer agent can soak in. The cells then produce natural cancer eliminating proteins and start identifying and attacking the cancerous cells.
Mr. Dhillon notes that building on Dr. Pierce’s pioneering work while he was Merck Research Labs Executive Director and a member of the Global Anti-PD-1 Development Team, Oncosec has focused the potential of ImmunoPulse therapy with IL-12 to enhance TILs in tumors to treat the larger population of cancer patients who are not responsive to anti-PD1 or other checkpoint inhibitors, and are very excited about the potential implications of a successful combination Phase 2b trial of pembrolizumab and ImmunoPulse.
A research paper entitled “PD-1 blockade induces responses by inhibiting adaptive immune resistance” (Nature vol.515: pp. 568-571 doi:10.1038/nature13954), coauthored by Dr. Pierce with a international, multi-institutional team of researchers was published in the November 27, 2014 issue of the journal Nature, and can be accessed here.
In Phase I and II clinical trials, ImmunoPulse IL-12 has demonstrated a favorable safety profile and evidence of anti-tumor activity in the treatment of various skin cancers as well as the potential to initiate a systemic immune response. OncoSec’s lead program, ImmunoPulse IL-12, is currently in Phase II development for several indications, including metastatic melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC), and triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). In addition to ImmunoPulse IL-12, the company is also identifying and developing new immune-targeting agents for use with the ImmunoPulse platform.
Oncosec says that what makes this technology unique is that although the treatment is local, the effect is systemic, meaning it works throughout the entire body – with even tumors that aren’t treated showing a response.
Licensing of University of South Florida Catheter Electrode Patent
OncoSec has secured an exclusive license for a specific patented technology from the University of South Florida Research Foundation (USFRF) that provides a device and related methods to deliver molecules to cells that comprise any tissue. The patent includes a catheter-based electrode and methods to deliver molecules to cardiac tissue, blood vessels, other tissues/organs that can be accessed through a luminal tissue and luminal tissues. The device also functions as a non-catheter based electrode for performing the same functions. Financial terms of this agreement were not disclosed in Dr. Pierce’s presentation.
For more information about OncoSec and its technologies, visit:
OncoSec Medical Incorporated
First World Congress on Electroporation and Pulsed Electric Fields in Biology, Medicine and Food & Environmental Technologies
OncoSec Medical Incorporated
Grand Hotel Bernardin Portoroz