Batu Biologicals recently announced its flagship product ValloVax™, a novel cancer vaccine that trains the immune system to selectively kill blood vessels that are feeding tumors.
Batu Biologicals is an early stage, preclinical biopharmaceutical company focusing on allogeneic cell therapies in the area of immune modulation. In a recent interview with CEOCFO Magazine, Samuel Wagner, President / CEO of Batu, revealed that preclinical data is available that supports the initial clinical trial of ValloVax™ in lung cancer.
According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the United States, causing more deaths than colon, breast and pancreatic cancers combined, and with care costs estimated at $14 billion per year in the US alone.
Current conventional methods of treatment for non-small stage lung cancer include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery. These approaches can have severe toxic side effects and can ultimately result in toxicity-associated death. Also, cancer is known to develop mechanisms that can acquire drug resistance, therefore relapse is common and tumor regression can be difficult to achieve.
Batu researchers are taking cells from a highly angiogenic (vascularized) environment that stimulates the cancer microenvironment and are then making these cells more immunogenic in the lab, which means that they acquire specific markers that allow the body to rapidly identify these cells as foreign. If a patient is then vaccinated with these ValloVax ™ cells, the body recognizes them as a potential pathogen, proceeding to mount an efficient immune response against multiple antigens expressed on the tumor endothelium.
This type of vaccine can be advantageous because it targets the tumor blood vessels, not our own body’s vessels, therefore it is less likely to develop drug resistance. Also, angiogenesis, or the process of new blood vessel formation, is essential to maintain tumor growth, hence an immune response specifically targeted against those blood vessels can stop tumor development and metastasis.
Recent studies have been conducted providing evidence that tumor blood vessels play a role in suppressing the host’s immune response against the tumor. Therefore, destroying the tumor endothelium allows more T-cell infiltration into the tumor site, further increasing the chances of remission and extended patient survival.
Batu Biologics has been using an unconventional approach to raise funds to accelerate FDA development of its lung cancer vaccine through a donation-based crowdfunding campaign. “We are pleased with the Internet attention that has been generated by the launch of our crowdfunding campaign,” said Mr. Wagner. “Given the devastation that lung cancer causes on society and the apparent lack of non-toxic approaches to this condition, we are pleased with the interest garnished by public media. There is a fundamental lack of knowledge regarding lung cancer in the eyes of the public and various governmental decision makers. More attention to this cause will benefit not only Batu Biologics, but also the numerous researchers dedicated to making an impact in this terrible disease.”