Agenus announces positive Phase II data from brain cancer vaccine study

Agenus, Inc., a Lexington, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company, announced preliminary data on Wednesday from its Phase II clinical trial of a new vaccine meant to treat newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme, a type of brain tumor.

Researchers treated GBM patients with heat shock protein-peptide complex-96, a prophage series cancer vaccine candidate. Patients treated with HSPPC-96, in addition to the standard of care, showed a 146 percent increase in progression free survival and a 60 percent increase in overall survival when compared to the standard of care alone.

"Cancer vaccines offer the hope of benefit without toxicity for patients with glioblastoma," Andrew Parsa, the lead clinical investigator of the study, said. "Data from the HSPPC-96 trials have been consistently positive in both recurrent and newly diagnosed GBM settings, supporting the premise that this vaccine may one day become part of the standard of care. We are now advancing HSPPC-96 in recurrent GBM in the largest, randomized brain tumor trial ever funded by the NCI and the largest vaccine study ever conducted with Avastin."

Glioblastoma is the most common primary malignant brain tumor, which accounts for most diagnoses and has a particularly poor prognosis. The current standard of care for patients with GM is surgical resection followed by system temozolomide and fractionated external beam radiotherapy.

Prophage series cancer vaccines are autologous therapies derived from cells taken from the patient's own tumor. The vaccines are meant to reprogram the body's immune system to target cells with the same antigenic fingerprint as the tumor.

Agenus presented the data from the study on Wednesday at the 81st American Association of Neurological Surgeons Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans.

The Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program of the National Cancer Institute is supporting another study with the HSPPC-96 vaccine in a large, randomized Phase II trial in combination with Avastin, also known as bevacizumab, in patients with surgically resectable recurrent GBM.