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BioVex signs exclusive licence to use key antigens in vaccine.

BioVex Limited (Oxford, England) announced that it has signed a worldwide patent licence agreement with the United States Public Health Service. The agreement allows exclusive use of the key human melanoma antigens, MART-1 and gp100, in therapeutic cancer vaccines based on herpes virus vectors. The melanoma antigens were characterised in the laboratory of Dr. Steven A Rosenberg at the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda and BioVex will utilise them in its novel therapeutic vaccine, ImmunoVEX tri-melan.

Melanoma has the fastest growing incidence of any human cancer in the Western world, growing at 6% per annum. There are around 42,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States and 7,500 deaths from the disease. ImmunoVEX tri-melan is currently undergoing pre-clinical development. In addition to the MART 1 and gp100 antigens, the vaccine also contains the melanoma tyrosinase antigen. It is believed to be the only melanoma vaccine in development to contain all three antigens.

BioVex's ImmunoVEX platform is a unique vaccine technology that is designed to prime the body's immune system to fight cancer and chronic infectious disease. Other vaccines based on the platform will include products to treat cervical cancer and genital herpes infection.

Dr. Gareth Beynon, Chief Executive Officer of BioVex said: "Our ImmunoVEX vaccines represent a significant breakthrough in the search for effective ways to prime the immune system and we are pleased to have secured an exclusive licence to these two important and clinically relevant melanoma antigens. ImmunoVEX trimelan will be BioVex's second product into the clinic, following the recent entry of OncoVEX GM-CSF into a Phase I study"

BioVex is a three year old private biotech company whose principle focus is on the development of therapeutics for cancer and chronic infectious disease. The company has two unique proprietary product platforms (ImmunoVEX and OncoVEX) and a functional genomics platform (NeuroVEX) all based on the manipulation of the herpes simplex virus. The company is headquartered in Oxfordshire with additional laboratory facilities in London.

ImmunoVEX -- a Unique Dendritic Cell Based Vaccine Platform Considerable evidence from advanced clinical trials has shown that antigen presentation by the immune systems key policing cells -- dendritic cells -- can lead to a therapeutically effective immune response against disease associated antigens to which the body has become tolerant. These diseases include a broad range of cancers and infectious diseases such as those caused by herpes simplex virus, HBV, HCV, HIV and malaria.

Herpes simplex virus infects and delivers antigen-encoding genes to dendritic cells at very high efficiency and has the potential to become one of the leading methods for loading these cells with antigens. However, dendritic cells infected with herpes simplex virus are usually inactivated by the virus. BioVex has identified the genes responsible for this inactivation. The deletion of these genes provides a proprietary vaccine platform which combines very efficient antigen delivery to, and optimal stimulation of, this key class of antigen presenting cell. The company's lead program from the ImmunoVEX platform is in pre-clinical development for the treatment of malignant melanoma.

OncoVEX -- The First in a New Class of Oncolytic Cancer Vaccines First generation products, developed by other groups, based on viruses that selectively replicate in and destroy tumor cells without affecting healthy tissue have demonstrated proof of principle in man and have been shown to be well tolerated. BioVex has constructed a series of proprietary "second generation" OncoVEX viruses which are not only more lytic than first generation products but are also designed to stimulate the immune system to destroy metastatic deposits. This has been engineered by the deletion of herpes simplex virus "immune suppressor genes" and, in the case of its lead product, the insertion of an immune stimulating cytokine gene. OncoVEX GM-CSF is currently undergoing a Phase 1 trial at the Hammersmith Hospital, London.

BioVex Limited +44-1235-441900 www.biovex.com
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Comment:BioVex signs exclusive licence to use key antigens in vaccine.
Publication:BIOTECH Patent News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 1, 2002
Words:631
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