Industry-Sponsored Research Week

Mass General and Voltron Therapeutics enter sponsored research agreement to develop personalized cancer vaccine

By David Schwartz
Published: June 16th, 2020

Massachusetts General Hospital’s Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center (VIC) and Voltron Therapeutics, Inc. have signed a sponsored research agreement that will focus on developing and optimizing potent compounds for inhibiting tumor growth in ovarian cancer brought on by human papilloma virus. The research will leverage VaxCelerate, a self-assembling vaccine platform licensed by Partners HealthCare exclusively to Voltron.

In prior research, that platform, when combined with a checkpoint inhibitor in a model of HPV-induced cancer, demonstrated a significant improvement in survival over either agent alone or combined. Based on these preliminary findings, several aspects of the protein core of the vaccine construct were re-engineered to optimize its ability to bind targets on cancer cells. New preclinical studies covered by the agreement will continue to build on the technology’s safety and efficacy track record and position it for human trials.

Dr. Mark Poznansky, director of the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center, stated, “The self-assembling vaccine, co-invented with my colleague Dr. Jeffrey Gelfand, has been designed to be highly adaptable, designed for safety and allows for seamless modifications in order to target specific proteins found in tumor cells. Leveraging the protein HSP70, we are able to determine the quantity and timing of vaccination that best induces T-cell responses and explore the maximized benefit from vaccine induced anti-tumor immunity.”

The self-assembling vaccine incorporates a heat shock protein that activates the immune system, bound to targeting peptides. The base core technology relies on synthesizing the heat shock protein with Avidin. Biotinylated immunogenic peptides are then bound to the HSP to customize the vaccine.

“Voltron Therapeutics is excited to continue our groundbreaking work with the VIC by supporting ongoing research dedicated to our oncology program and the advancement of the VaxCelerate platform to develop vaccines to fight a range of cancers,” said Votron CEO Pat Gallagher. The company hopes the work will lead to first-in-human trials in 2021.

Voltron and Mass General have a longstanding relationship around vaccine development to fight infectious diseases and cancer. Recently, the company announced a separate joint agreement to advance use of the VaxCelerate platform to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, which will begin animal testing this quarter. The COVID-19 vaccine could be used in humans by late 2020/early 2021, according to the company.

Source: Cision

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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