A new Phase I/IIa trial known as the MAGE Vaccine trial is expected to enrol approximately 86 people who have been newly diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and will be testing the safety and initial efficacy of immunotherapy drug "VTP-600" in these patients. VTP-600 will be given in combination with the current first line treatment for NSCLC.
Unlike preventative vaccines, such as the influenza vaccine, which is given to healthy people to protect them against future disease, VTP-600 is given to people who already have lung cancer. VTP-600 is an immunotherapy, designed to stimulate the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells.
It does this by delivering cancer-associated proteins — known as MAGE-A3 and NY-ESO-1 antigens — to antigen presenting cells (dendritic cells), causing the immune system to produce cytotoxic T cells which are able to target and kill cancer cells expressing these antigens. It cannot target healthy tissues because MAGE-A3 and NY-ESO-1 are not found on non-cancerous cells. These antigens were identified as ideal targets as part of research by Benoit Van den Eynde's lab at the University of Oxford. More information here.
Even though two doses are administered, the immunotherapy comprises three parts. ChAdOx1-MAGE-A3-NY-ESO-1 is the prime immunotherapy administered to all patients. In the prime dose, ‘ChAdOx1’ refers to the viral vector used in the vaccine to deliver the antigens. It is a virus which causes a common cold in chimpanzees, but it has been modified so that it can no longer cause disease. ChAdOx1 is the same viral vector used in the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, and is being used in phase II trials for other diseases.
If further clinical trials are successful, VTP-600 could prove to be a powerful new treatment for a group of patients in need of better options. Depending on its effectiveness in NSCLC, VTP-600 could be evaluated in other types of cancer in the future, including breast, bowel, bladder and melanoma.
We are pleased that the research arising from the Ludwig Oxford Branch and their colleagues at Oxford University is being tested in this clinical trial to evaluate the benefit it may bring to patients with NSCLC and potentially other cancer patients as well.
- Jonathan Skipper, Executive Vice President for Technology Development, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research