It stimulates the immune system to attack pathways necessary for forming blood vessels. The process, known as angiogenesis, is crucial to cancer cells being able to keep tumors growing. So disrupting the process can stop tumor growth.
In November 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Investigational New Drug status to ValloVax as a lung cancer treatment. The approval allowed Batu to start Phase 1 clinical trials of ValloVax for that disease.
How ValloVax works
ValloVax stimulates an immune response against a number of proteins on the surface of placenta cells.
The proteins are also found on the surface of tumor-associated blood vessels but not on healthy blood vessels. Triggering an immune response against the proteins cuts off the blood that tumor-associated blood vessels need to keep the tumor growing. Basically this means that ValloVax works by starving tumors. An advantage of this approach is that it doesn’t harm normal blood vessels.
ValloVax in clinical trials
A study in mice showed that ValloVax slowed tumor growth in lung cancer, melanoma, and breast cancer.
In addition, a pilot clinical trial in three patients — one with colon cancer, one with adenocarcinoma, and one with hemangioblastoma — showed ValloVax to be safe and effective.
A recently published study reported that ValloVax triggered immune responses against proteins associated with tumor blood vessels in mouse models of brain and colon cancer. It also showed that a combination of ValloVax and an immune checkpoint inhibitor shrank the mice’s tumors.
Another finding was that the immune response that ValloVax triggered against tumor blood vessels did not harm healthy blood vessels. This suggested that ValloVax can treat solid tumors regardless of the kind of tissue they originate in.
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