Nanoparticle-Coated Bacteria can Deliver Cancer Vaccine

Marking an important step in the development of immunotherapy cancer treatment, scientists have demonstrated that nanoparticle-coated bacteria can effectively deliver an oral DNA vaccine that stimulates the body's own immune system to destroy its cancer cells. This is the first time that a nanoparticle coating has been used for bacterial delivery of oral DNA vaccination in vivo. Compared with uncoated bacteria, coated bacteria can bypass many of the roadblocks that have so far limited the immune response and that currently pose the biggest challenge to DNA vaccinations against cancer. The researchers, led by Yuan Ping at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and Guping Tang at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, have published their study on using the nanoparticle-coated bacteria for oral DNA vaccines in a recent issue of Nano Letters.
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Gene Therapy Superior to Haploidentical HSCT for SCID-X1

Gene therapy is superior to haploidentical hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) to treat X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID-X1), according to a report published online April 13 in Blood. In SCID-X1 ("bubble boy disease"), impairment of the interleukin 2 receptor gamma chain causes lack of T cells and natural killer cells, which depletes B cells. The disease is X-linked. Without HSCT, most patients succumb to infection in infancy. Gene therapy introduces autologous HSCs given functional IL2RGgenes via a viral vector. Clinical trials to assess gene therapy for SCID-X1 began in 1999, but first-generation retroviral vectors led to insertional mutagenesis in five boys, one of whom died from the resulting leukemia. Retroviruses retooled to delete the enhancer elements that trigger the cancer are safe and efficacious so far, according to a report published in October 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
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Ichor Medical Systems Announces Immunotherapy Collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Innovation

SAN DIEGO, APRIL 13, 2015 -- Ichor Medical Systems, Inc. (Ichor) announced today that it has entered into a product development collaboration and worldwide license agreement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Janssen). Under the agreement, which was facilitated by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, the parties will work together to develop and commercialize DNA-based vaccine products for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B using Ichor’s TriGridTM electroporation technology for clinical administration. Ichor will receive an upfront payment, R&D support, and development and sales milestone payments up to a potential total of approximately $85 million USD, as well as royalty payments on any future licensed product sales. Janssen will assume responsibility for certain development costs and all commercialization costs associated with the program, including manufacturing and distribution expense for Ichor’s TriGrid Delivery System.
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Making Gene Therapy Safer

Scientists at EPFL have demonstrated a new method that can be used to greatly improve the safety and efficiency of gene therapy using the patient's own stem cells. Ex vivo gene therapy is a medical technique in which stem cells are taken from the patient, and their deficient genes are switched with healthy ones. The stem cells are grown in the lab and re-inserted into the patient. However, this method often has health risks, such as leukemia and mutations. The problem is that most stem cells cannot be grown efficiently with current technologies, and the resulting cell population in the lab can contain a mix of healthy and unhealthy cells. Scientists at EPFL have developed a selection process that can detect the cells that have take up the healthy genes with great specificity, greatly reducing the risks of ex vivo gene therapy. The method, successfully tested on cells from a skin disease, is published in EMBO Molecular Medicine.
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Cancer Immunotherapy Biotech Adaptimmune Therapeutics Files for a $150 Million IPO

Adaptimmune Therapeutics, which is developing cancer immunotherapies based on genetically engineered T-cell receptors, filed on Monday with the SEC to raise up to $150 million in an initial public offering. The Abingdon, United Kingdom-based company, which was founded in 2008 , plans to list on the NASDAQ under the symbol ADAP. Adaptimmune Therapeutics initially filed confidentially on February 5, 2015. BofA Merrill Lynch, Cowen & Company and Leerink Partners are the joint bookrunners on the deal.
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‘Polio-like’ Strain of Enterovirus D68 May be Responsible for Mystery Paralysis, Study Says

Genetic sequencing of a virus found in respiratory secretions of children in California and Colorado who suffered from paralysis or muscle weakness last fall reveals that they were infected with a mutated strain of enterovirus D68 that is closer to polio than other strains common in previous years. The study, published Monday in Lancet Infectious Diseases, sheds new light on one of the most troubling medical mysteries of recent years. Amid a nationwide outbreak of severe respiratory illness, doctors at hospitals nationwide began to report that they were seeing an alarming number of children with unexplained weakness in an arm or a leg to complete paralysis that required them to be put on ventilators. Treating physicians noted that many of the children appeared to be infected with enterovirus D68, but researchers were cautious about drawing a causal link because virus had been bouncing around the world since the 1960s and had typically only caused breathing issues such as coughing and wheezing.
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Developer of Viral Vectors for Anticancer Gene Therapy Files for $70M IPO

Houston's MultiVir, a developer of viral vectors to deliver anticancer gene therapy, just filed for a $70 million IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission as it seeks funding for clinical trials of its Phase I/II lead candidates for colorectal cancer and head and neck cancer, and to take the first FDA-approved gene therapy to the market. Both candidates utilize adenovirus as their specific vector. It does not typically integrate into the host cell's DNA, reducing the risk of side effects and disruptions to normal gene function. Other MultiVir candidates use a herpes simplex and vaccinia virus platform.
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ViE Awards Shortlist Announced! Did you Make it?

The nominations have been counted and we are delighted to announce that the shortlist for the 8th Annual ViE Awards has now been chosen. Join us at the World Vaccine Congress on April 7-9 to meet and celebrate with those deemed worthy of these accolades by booking your ticket today. Hundreds of your colleagues, clients and suppliers voted to choose those who most deserve recognition for their work across 14 categories.
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Researchers Find Way to Enhance Effects of Immunotherapy in Glioblastoma

When cancer strikes, it may be possible for patients to fight back with their own defenses, using a strategy known as immunotherapy. According to a new study published in Nature, researchers have found a way to enhance the effects of this therapeutic approach in glioblastoma, a deadly type of brain cancer, and possibly improve patient outcomes. The research was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) as well as the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which are part of the National Institutes of Health. "The promise of dendritic cell-based therapy and other immunotherapies for brain cancer has been upheld for some time, but an important implication of this work is a demonstrated capacity to significantly improve the clinical impact of immunotherapy for patients with this very difficult disease," said Duane A. Mitchell, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Brain Tumor Immunotherapy Program at the University of Florida in Gainesville and co-lead author of the study.
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Inovio Pharmaceuticals Receive $16 Million HIV Grant From NIAID

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (INO) announced today that the company and its academic collaborators, including the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), were awarded a new five-year $16 million Integrated Preclinical/Clinical AIDS Vaccine Development Program grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). This five-year program grant was awarded based on the clinical successes of Inovio's PENNVAX® HIV vaccine program. The grant will fund research to expand PENNVAX coverage of HIV strains as well as to further enhance antibody responses generated by the vaccine.
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