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Melanoma therapy costs could be slashed thanks to new device, says OncoSec

By Natalie Morrison , 06-Oct-2011
Last updated on 13-Oct-2011 at 17:50 GMT2011-10-13T17:50:51Z

The price of melanoma therapy could soon be slashed thanks to a new delivery system developed by US firm OncoSec.

Through its new OncoSec Medical System (OMS) device – which emits electroporation pulses to deliver the cancer fighting agent directly into a solid tumor – OncoSec claim’s it can provide a locally targeted delivery that requires a reduced dosage.

OncoSec CEO Punit Dhillon told in-PharmaTechnologist: “Basically, we’re delivering intra-tumourally. Each anti cancer agent is able to get into the cell because we’re injecting it then pulsing it using a current.

“Whereas normally large quantities of DNA plasma are administered through a drip, here we are issuing a small localized dose.

“This could reduce the cost of treatment. I’ll put it this way – we don’t expect our treatment to cost $125,000,”which is the average cost for a course of skin cancer therapy.

The delivery platform is currently undergoing three Phase II trials with two cancer drugs; plasmid DNA construct (IL-12), and chemotherapeu*c (bleomycin), chosen for their ability to hold the device’s electrical charge.

Double-pronged attack

The firm has split the research into two categories referred to as OMS Electro oncology cancer immunotherapy, and OMS chemotherapy tumor ablation.

Both use the OMS platform’s disposable six needle circle applicator, followed by electroporation which creates channels in the cell to allow the drug to enter, before re-sealing it.

The chemotherapy approach delivers bleomycin with what OncoSec claims is a 4000-fold increase in delivery efficacy.

Whereas the immunotherapy method provides a systematic effect using the body’s own immune system.

Dhillon added that out of the 24 patients they saw in stage three to four melanoma, over 90 per cent had a local response rate, the majority of those a prolonged response.

But in the immunotherapy method, 53 per cent of patients saw a response from untreated tumors on their body because of systematic response.

He said: “The treatment boosted the immune system so that the body started to treat other areas on its own. Three patients had 100 per cent clearance.”

Investment potential

OncoSec says it has focused on skin cancer therapies because it seemed the most lucrative.

However Dhillon also said the platform has capabilities in many other fields of oncology.

And as for potential partners in the future, the business will look to both big and small pharma.

When asked about the manufacturing potential of the treatment, Dhillon replied: “We have full control over manufacturing now.

“But when it comes to commercial ramp up we will look to more economical methods, and we will be outsourcing. In particular we will look for offshore contracts.

“The drug manufacturing will be done entirely by a CMO. We’re looking to smaller CMOs for this.”

He added: “The more fundamental question here is where we will commercialise it. We’re expecting to commercialise with the help of a partner, and big pharma has the set of requirements. This would ensure the drug is more available.”

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