Vaccines made using the technology consist of a antigen unit, a dimerization centre and a targeting molecule that preferentially attaches to molecules on the surface of antigen presenting cells (APC).
The Vaccibody vaccines are then internalised by the APCs and the peptides of the antigen unit are presented to CD4+ T cells, which then interact with receptor B cells that in turn present them as antigenic peptides.
Vaccibody told Outsourcing-pharma.com this targeted approach elicits a strong immune response and that: “Animal models have shown that a far smaller dose is needed compared to competing DNA vaccines.”
The firm also contrasted its Vaccibody manufacturing method - in which vaccines encoded on a DNA construct are expressed in cell lines in a standard biomanufactuirng set up - with the approach Dendreon uses to make its prostate cancer vaccine, Provenge.
Dendreon's vaccine – which was the first cellular vaccine to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - requires that immune cells are first extracted from the pateitn and then exposed to a stimulatory antigens before being reimplanted. This processing heavy approach - while effective - saddles Provenge with a hefty $100,000 price tag for a single course of treatment.
Vaccibody told this publication that: “Unlike Dendreon, there is no need to extract patient cells, rather we just use a simple DNA or protein subunit vaccine, which attracts, ligates and activates the antigen-presenting cells by itself.”
Cervical cancer vaccine
At present Vaccibody is using the technology to develop a cervical cancer vaccine – known as VB10.16 – in a project for which it received a €2m ($2.5m) development grant from the Norwegian Research Council earlier this week.
The firm – which has also received financial support from investment group the Sarsia Fund, the Radium Hospital Foundation as well as other private investors, aims is to move the vaccine into clinical trials by 2014.
Vaccibody also told us that it is “open to licensing for the technology and see opportunities in other oncology indications, infectious diseases, TB and veterinary uses.”