- AST-VAC2 is a non-patient specific cancer vaccine designed to stimulate a patient’s immune system in order to attack telomerase -- a protein that is expressed in more than 95% of cancers.
- AST-VAC2 is derived from embryonic stem cells. However, an earlier version of the vaccine, AST-VAC1, was developed using a patient’s own blood cells.
- Under the new deal, Asterias will develop the manufacturing process for AST-VAC2 while Cancer Research Technology (CRT) -- part of Cancer Research UK -- will conduct phase l/ll trials.
One of the most compelling aspects of AST-VAC2 is that this therapy would be compatible with other types of immunotherapy. Under the terms of the agreement, Asterias has the first option to license the data from the trial for upfront payments, royalties, and milestone payments. If Asterias defers, CRT retains the option to secure the license.
Asterias and CRT will be hoping to avoid the fate of Germany-based Merck KGaA's tecemotide, an experimental lung cancer vaccine that has failed to show effectiveness. The company announced last Friday that it would be stopping all patient trials with the drug after a series of disappointing trial outcomes.