SAN FRANCISCO, March 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Jennerex, Inc., a private clinical-stage biotherapeutics company focused on the development and commercialization of first-in-class targeted oncolytic virus products for cancer, today announced that the first patient has been treated in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial of JX-594 in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer who have become refractory to chemotherapy and are either refractory to or ineligible for cetuximab. The two-arm, dose-escalation study will evaluate JX-594 as a monotherapy and in combination with irinotecan.
The multicenter study will be conducted in the United States, Canada and Europe and is designed to enroll up to 42 patients. Patients will be enrolled in one of two treatment groupsone treatment group will receive JX-594 as a monotherapy and one treatment group will receive JX-594 in combination with irinotecan. Patients in both groups will receive five weekly intravenous infusions of JX-594 at one of two escalating dose levels followed by up to three optional intratumoral injections of JX-594 into metastases to the liver. The combination group will receive concomitant administrations of irinotecan. Once the maximum tolerated dose is determined for each treatment group, additional patients will be enrolled at that dose level. The endpoints of the trial include safety, dose optimization, and tumor responses as measured by RECIST and Choi criteria. For more information about the trial, please visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.
"JX-594, with its three diverse, anticancer mechanisms of action, has shown very strong clinical data to date against multiple tumor types, and it is currently being evaluated in clinical trials for advanced liver and colorectal cancers," said David H. Kirn, M.D., president and chief medical officer of Jennerex. "In the clinical trial announced today, we are particularly interested in observing the effects of the combination of JX-594 with irinotecan given that, in pre-clinical studies, JX-594 has been shown to sensitize tumors to irinotecan which has the potential to increase its anti-tumor effect in colorectal and other cancers."
JX-594: A Multi-Mechanistic Approach To Targeting Cancer
JX-594 is a proprietary, engineered oncolytic virus that is designed to selectively target and destroy cancer cells. JX-594 is designed to attack cancer through three diverse mechanisms of action: 1) the lysis of cancer cells through viral replication, 2) the shutdown of the blood supply to tumors through vascular targeting and destruction, and 3) the stimulation of the body's immune response against cancer cells, i.e., active immunotherapy. Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials in multiple cancer types to date have shown that JX-594, delivered either directly into tumors or systemically, induces tumor shrinkage and/or necrosis and is well-tolerated by patients (over 130 treated to date). Objective tumor responses have been demonstrated in a variety of cancers including liver, colon, kidney, lung cancer and melanoma. JX-594 has had a favorable safety profile to date with predictable and generally mild side effects that typically include flu-like symptoms that resolve in 24 to 48 hours.
JX-594 is the most advanced product candidate from Jennerex's proprietary SOLVE (Selective Oncolytic Vaccinia Engineering) platform. SOLVE takes advantage of the natural attributes of poxviruses as well as their ability to be genetically engineered to produce safe, therapeutic viruses that can infect solid tumors both systemically and locally. The vaccinia poxvirus strain backbone of JX-594 has been used safely in millions of people as part of a worldwide vaccination program. This strain naturally targets cancer cells due to common genetic defects in cancer cells. JX-594 was engineered to enhance this natural safety and cancer-selectivity by deleting its thymidine kinase (TK) gene, thus making it dependent on the cellular TK expressed at persistently high levels in cancer cells. To enhance product efficacy, JX-594 is also engineered to express the immunogenic GM-CSF protein. GM-CSF complements the cancer cell lysis of the product candidate, leading to a cascade of events resulting in tumor necrosis, tumor vasculature shutdown and sustained anti-tumoral immune attack.
About Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and according to the World Health Organization, it accounts for approximately 639,000 deaths worldwide each year. Approximately one in 20 people in the United States will develop CRC during their lifetime, with the risk increasing with age. Ninety percent of all CRC cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 50. The exact cause of colorectal cancer is not known, although there are certain known risk factors that increase the chance of developing colorectal cancer. These risk factors include inflammatory bowel disease, family history of CRC, certain genetic syndromes, smoking, low fruit and vegetable intake and a sedentary lifestyle.
About Jennerex's Partners for JX-594
Transgene (NYSE Euronext Paris: FR0005175080), a bio-pharmaceutical company specialized in the development of immunotherapeutic products, holds an exclusive license to develop and commercialize JX-594 in Europe and neighboring countries. Green Cross Corporation, a leading company in the development, manufacturing, and commercialization of viral vaccines and other biological products, holds an exclusive license to develop and commercialize JX-594 in South Korea, and Lee's Pharmaceutical Ltd. holds an exclusive license to develop and commercialize JX-594 in China.
Transgene, a member of the Institut Mérieux Group, is a publicly traded French biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of therapeutic vaccines and immunotherapeutic products in oncology and infectious diseases, and has five compounds in clinical development: TG4010 and JX-594 (TG6006) having completed initial phase II trials, TG4001 in phase IIb trial, TG4040 in phase II trial and TG4023 in phase I trial. Transgene has concluded strategic agreements for the development of two of its immunotherapy products, an option agreement with Novartis for the development of TG4010 to treat various cancers, and an in-licensing agreement with U.S.-based Jennerex Biotherapeutics, Inc., to develop and market JX-594 (TG6006), an oncolytic product. Transgene has bio-manufacturing capacities for viral-based products. Additional information about Transgene is available on the internet at www.transgene.fr
Green Cross Corp. is a publicly traded and leading Korean biopharmaceutical company specialized in development and commercialization of vaccines, plasma-derivatives, recombinant proteins and therapeutic antibodies in oncology and infectious diseases. Green Cross Corp. has been collaborating with Jennerex in Korea since 2006 to jointly conduct the Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials in patients with liver cancer. Additional information about Green Cross Corp. is available on the internet at www.greencross.com.
Lee's Pharmaceutical Holdings Limited is a public biopharmaceutical company with over 16 years operation in China's pharmaceutical industry. It is fully integrated with solid infrastructures in drug development, clinical development, regulatory, manufacturing, sales and marketing in China with global perspectives and currently markets nine products. Lee's Pharma focuses on several different areas such as cardiovascular and infectious diseases, dermatology, oncology, gynecology and others. It has more than 30 products under different development stages stemming from both internal R&D as well as from the recent acquisition of licensing and distribution rights from various U.S. and European companies. The mission of Lee's is to become a successful biopharmaceutical group in Asia providing innovative products to fight diseases and improve health and quality of life. Additional information about Lee's Pharma is available on the internet at www.leespharm.com.
Jennerex, Inc. is a clinical-stage biotherapeutics company focused on the development and commercialization of first-in-class, breakthrough targeted oncolytic products for cancer. The Company's lead product JX-594 is currently in an international, randomized Phase 2b clinical trial (TRAVERSE) in patients with advanced primary liver cancer who have failed sorafenib therapy. In addition, JX-594 is being tested in the same patient population in combination with sorafenib. JX-594 is also in a Phase 1 clinical trial in patients with treatment-refractory colorectal cancer. Published studies designed to establish optimal dose levels and the safety profile of JX-594 have shown its ability to selectively target and cause destruction of a variety of common cancer types. JX-594 and other product candidates under development are designed to attack cancer tumors through three diverse mechanisms of action: the lysis of cancer cells through viral replication, the ablation of the blood supply to tumors through vascular targeting and destruction and the stimulation of the body's immune response against the cancer. Jennerex is headquartered in San Francisco and has related research and development operations in Ottawa, Canada and Pusan, South Korea. For more information about Jennerex, please visit www.jennerex.com.
SOURCE Jennerex, Inc.