LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - April 17, 2012) -
In what is seen as a game changing event for the company, TapImmune (OTCBB: TPIV
) announced on Monday that it had signed an Exclusive Agreement with the Mayo Foundation for Education & Research, Rochester, MN, to License a proprietary MHC Class I HER2/neu antigen technology.
"It's a new antigen that we've licensed from the Mayo Clinic and it's an antigen that no one recognized before for the HER2/neu receptor," explained Dr. Glynn Wilson, Chairman & CEO at TapImmune, during an exclusive interview with BioMedReports. "The existing products in the market don't go the same pathway and so they're not as effective; and so we think that with our other approaches to HER2/neu, we'll have a real advantage and give us a leading position in development of a vaccine for HER2/neu -- both for therapeutic and hopefully in the future, prophylactic."
After 20 years of HER2/neu vaccine development the scientific team at the firm feels they have a far greater understanding of the target, and indeed of the needs of cancer immunotherapy.
Early on peptide vaccine studies showed that 'killer' T cells could be generated. At around the same time different peptides were shown to generate 'helper' T cells. To date, however, we have not seen a combined approach that provides a naturally processed killer cell target and a collection of broadly reactive HER2/neu derived helper peptides.
With more than 200,000 women in the U.S. being diagnosed with breast cancer each year, 75 percent of whom test positive for the HER2 receptor, but only 25 percent are eligible candidates for Roche-Genentech's breakthrough drug Herceptin, a $5B a year product and some new drug candidates in late stage clinical development, we still don't have a comprehensive approach.
Observers believe that this is where this collaboration between TapImmune and the Mayo Clinic enters and bridges the gap, making what the scientific team at TapImmune believes will be the broadest and most comprehensive HER2/neu breast cancer platform available.
We know now that killer cell targets absent of T cell 'help' offer only short lived responses and do not generate T cell memory. In addition, scientists have figured out that using so called 'universal' T cell helper peptides does not truly deliver the need for 'locally available' helper peptides. These helper T cells need their antigens for stimulation and targeting in the actual tumor, where they need to function.
Without getting too technical it boils down to this. Killers need both naturally processed targets AND they need T cell help. While helper T cells need stimulation as well, and this has to be accomplished in the same microenvironment of the tumor where these functions are being performed. This means that the helper peptides must be natural targets as well, and they have to be found in the same place and time as the killer cells.
Will investors continue to embrace the development at TapImmune as they begin to grasp the implications? The pipeline programs at the firm are very early, but volume and interest in the stock has been rising -- just as it has for other stocks with development programs in the same space. This could be an important differentiator for the micro-cap company specializing in the development of innovative gene based immunotherapeutics and vaccines in the areas of oncology and infectious disease.
The full video interview with Dr. Glynn Wilson, Chairman & CEO at TapImmune, is now available at:
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