SCANCELL REVEALS PLAN TO TARGET RIVAL'S LEAD VACCINE
Its no secret that Scancell has rival manufacturer Dendreon firmly in its sights. Dendreon holds the coveted position as leader of the therapeutic cancer vaccine market but not for long if Scancell has its way.
Dendreon has been a true trail blazer and its founders were the brains behind the only type of therapeutic cancer vaccine to get commercial approval by the FDA, the dendritic cell vaccine. Non-toxic and cleverly marshalling the patient's own immune system to fight off the disease, they thought they had it made when their first vaccine to treat prostate cancer entered the market place. Their science which used the immune system's sentinels, the dendritic cells, to alert the immune system to the presence of cancer was truly ground breaking but the technology they devised to produce their vaccine was simply uneconomic. Patients had to have their blood collected and sent off to Dendreon so their dendritic cells could be extracted, primed with cancer proteins to allow the immune system to identify and hunt down the cancer and returned for re-infusing back into the patient again. So every batch had to be 'tailor made' for just one patient! It cost the proverbial arm and a leg. $93,000 for a course of treatment that never really worked at its best because of the damage the patient's dendritic cells suffered in the process.
But the real nightmare for Dendreon began when Scancell came up with an alternative dendritic cell vaccine that didn't need patients' blood to make it. In fact Scancell's vaccine actually coated a patient's dendritic cells with cancer proteins while they were still in the patient's body; outdoing Dendreon's expensive 'one patient at a time' vaccine with one that could be mass produced to treat millions of patients from a single batch!
Scancell has achieved this by designing a DNA cancer vaccine called ImmunoBody that instructs the patient's own cells to produce special antibodies which mimic cancer proteins and stick to the surfaces of the patient's dendritic cells. The alarm is raised and the immune system seeks out and destroys the cancer these special antibodies are mimicking. Scancell's vaccine is also re-programmable, enabling it to target any kind of cancer by simply altering its DNA program to cause the production of antibodies that mimic the proteins of a different type of cancer.
THE CONFERENCE THAT TIME FORGOT
As far as most commentators knew Scancell was working on just two ImmunoBody vaccines, SCIB1 to treat melanoma, which is currently in Phase 2 clinical trials and SCIB2 to treat lung cancer which is now ready for trialling. So until last weekend, Dendreon could have comforted itself with the notion that Scancell was swimming in its neighbours' pools. But owing to the diligent research and dogged inquiry of a poster on London South East Scancell Share Chat, Inanaco, Scancell has revealed that they are working on a new ImmunoBody vaccine to treat prostate cancer as well! This has to be Dendreon's worst nightmare.
This astonishing news was initially 'leaked,' but went largely unreported, in a 15 minute presentation at the 12th International Conference on Progress in Vaccination Against Cancer (PIVAC) on Wednesday 12th September 2012. The paper entitled, "Development of new prostate cancer vaccine strategies using PAP as target antigen," described a collaborative project between Scancell and researchers at Nottingham Trent University.
The paper doesn't mince its words. It makes it abundantly clear that the intention is to use Scancell's ImmunoBody DNA vaccine technology to make a mass market successor to Dendreon's only commercial product, its prostate cancer vaccine Provenge. SCIB3, as it will no doubt be called, will encode epitopes from the same antigen used in Provenge. But even more alarmingly for any of Scancell's competitors in the prostate cancer field, Scancell seems to be preparing a prophylactic prostate cancer vaccine as well, intended to prevent the disease developing in the first place. And if you don't think that Scancell are serious about this just take a look at what Professor Lindy Durrant said about Scancell's SCIB 1 vaccine as long ago as May 2010:
"In the short term, this could cure some patients with the disease, and in the long term it could be used to prevent people developing it in the first place."
A WEEKEND OF REVELATIONS
Having come across the above research in PIVAC's conference program, Inanaco sent an email to Scancell seeking clarification of their apparent intentions to develop a vaccine to treat prostate cancer. These intentions were then confirmed in an email from the company which was then posted by Inanaco on London South East's Scancell Chat last Sunday afternoon at 16:10. It read:
You certainly are diligent in your research!! This is early stage research on a possible new ImmunoBody for prostate cancer. We also have several others in development but do not normally make any announcements until we have developed the vaccine to the point where it is sufficiently advanced to be considered a candidate already ready for clinical development (such as SCIB2)
So Dendreon, you have been warned, but there is precious little you can do about it anyway. Scancell is technologically so far in advance of any other company producing dendritic cell vaccines that its competition might be best advised to prepare for the inevitable. What's that I hear, "Scancell's just a tiny British company with a few million dollars in the bank?" Think again, at the end of this year Scancell is going to be offered up for sale to the highest bidder. The directors have already told the press that they have been approached by suitors so its only a matter of time until the big boys get hold of Scancell's breakthrough DNA technology. Then it really will be curtains for Dendreon.
SELLING THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM
Scancell has a very simple strategy. Produce a better cancer vaccine than the global leader and sell Scancell on to the highest bidder by the end of the year.
So far only one company has had a therapeutic cancer vaccine approved for commercial use by the FDA. The Dendreon Corporation. Dendreon is therefore the one and only global leader in therapeutic cancer vaccines. But each treatment uses the blood of the patient to prepare it, so because of rejection, can only be given to one person at a time. This is inordinately expensive. So Dendreon's business model has proved to be fatally flawed with each course of treatment costing more than $90,000!
Scancell has found a way round this. It has patented a technology capable of providing the same treatment without having to extract the patient's blood first. Scancell's DNA vaccine can be given to any number of patients from the same batch so is therefore more cost effective, leaving plenty of room for profit.
In other words Scancell has found a short cut to becoming 'King of the Hill.' Whoever buys Scancell and brings its vaccines to market will become straight away the global leader of the cancer vaccine market. That's what's on offer. The keys to the kingdom. And in the expected bidding war to come, that's what will be fought over.
The Intellectual Property of Scancell's skin cancer vaccine, SCIB1, alone has been valued at a billion dollars! But Scancell's DNA vaccine technology allows its vaccines to be reprogrammed to treat different cancers. In fact, any kind of cancer. Indeed its already started the ball rolling for whoever buys Scancell by pre-preparing a second vaccine to treat lung cancer.
The industry will pay at least Â£12 a share (around $4 billion) for Scancell's existing vaccines in combination with its reprogrammable vaccine platform. They wont be able to resist it. If a company doesn't buy Scancell they hand over to the competition the top global position in cancer vaccines for a generation. A wise person will know that no pharmaceutical company can stand by and let that happen! Four billion dollars will prevent such a disaster. For they will fight like dogs to get Scancell. And as they do, its shares will rise and rise. In the end they could climb even higher than Â£12.
SCANCELL'S RISE IS DENDREON'S DOOM!
The Dendreon Corporation is the one and only global leader in therapeutic cancer vaccines. The technology they use requires extracting immune system alarm cells (dendritic cells) from the patient's blood, pulsing them with cancer antigens and injecting them back into that same patient. This has proved prohibitively expensive. Scancell therefore designed an alternative solution and has provided the industry and the regulatory authorities with a more commercially viable product: a DNA dendtritic cell vaccine which coats the alarm cells with epitopes of cancer antigens while those alarm cells are still in the patient's body. This provides a solution with no rejection problems and can therefore be given to any number of patients without having to manufacture a fresh batch.
Dendreon's Provenge, to treat prostate cancer, is the first and only therapeutic cancer vaccine commercially approved to date but the business model behind it is fatally flawed and the industry knows it. The treatment is simply unaffordable. So as Dendreon's stock has plummeted, Scancell's stock has risen, making Scancell London's best performing stock of 2012. Without doubt Scancell remains the most significant ongoing threat to Dendreon's dominance.
Here is a useful and informative post from Alan Turing, a poster with a good scientific background who writes on LSE's Scancell Chat. He is commenting on the recent Phase 1 results for Scancell's lead vaccine to treat melanoma, SCIB1:
PHASE 1 PRELIMINARY RESULTS
Well they were pretty astonishing really. Firstly because they were only measuring a group of patients in a study to test for toxicity, so there were only a few patients who actually received the vaccine at full strength.
The key 'stand out' was the tumour shrinkage in the patient with lung metastases. Dendritic cell vaccines have never before shrunk tumours without a toxic additive. Gp100 for instance was the first dendritic cell vaccine that was said, with much fanfare, to shrink tumours but only with the addition of the highly toxic Interleukin 2 (which defeats the purpose of using a non-toxic dendritic cell vaccine in my book). But previously without this additive Gp100 showed no signs of being able to shrink tumours. This is the most important achievement so far by SCIB1. It now has to repeat this in the proposed 8mg dose trial. If this tumour shrinking capability is confirmed then SCIB1 will have outdone all previous dendritic cell vaccines.
This extra power may be a result of its DNA delivery. The ImmunoBody vaccine consists of strands of DNA which are like a computer program. This DNA program is processed by the patient's healthy cells very much like a computer. Tens of thousands of antibodies are produced by the patient as instructed by Scancell's DNA program. Each antibody is shaped like a Y and on one of the arms of the Y is a 'pretend' cancer chemical unique to the cancer being treated. These antibodies, which in SCIB1's case, 'smell' like melanoma, stick to the surface of the immune system's sentinel cells (dendritic cells). They go crazy. To them they are covered in a foreign material that should definitely not be there. They then charge in their thousands to warn the immune system that something foreign has entered the body that needs to be searched for and destroyed. The immune system's army of T cells is dispatched. First the sappers, the Helper T-cells. They find the tumours and mark out a killing zone and change the blood chemistry inside this zone to make the tumours easier to kill. Then come the commandos, the Killer T-Cells to burst and destroy the tumours there.
This is so far ahead of what Dendreon does, Scancell's main competitor, that I suppose its no wonder that it achieved these promising results, albeit in just one particular patient. All eyes should be on the upcoming 8mg tumour trial, because so far, apart from its non-patient specific capability, the ability to shrink and eradicate tumours unaided is Scancell's most thrilling achievement. They have the pharmaceutical industry's attention for sure. Now they must show that they can repeat this success. I'm looking forward to the next instalment.
The market potential for dendritic cell vaccines is considerable. Scancell's vaccine is the only DNA (non-patient specific) version that has been shown to elicit an immune response. So if I was a buyer for a large pharmaceutical company looking for a dendritic cell vaccine to enter that sector of the market I would definitely choose Scancell's product first. The ability to shrink tumours is a unique one among this class of therapuetics so whatever this vaccine achieves on that front would be a bonus.
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