DCVax® is a technology that uses activated dendritic cells (the master cells of the immune system), and is designed to reinvigorate and educate the immune system to attack your brain cancer. Unlike conventional cancer drugs, which use one active agent to attack one target on the cancer, DCVax uses many active agents to attack many targets on the cancer cell.
DCVax is designed to mobilize the entire immune system, not just one among the many different categories of immune agents in that overall system.
As described above, DCVax is comprised of activated, educated dendritic cells. Dendritic cells are the master cells of the immune system, that mobilize or help the entire immune system. Some of the prominent cancer drugs today are composed of just one type of antibody — and antibodies themselves are just one type of agent in the overall immune system “army”. In contrast, the full immune system involves many types of antibodies, and also many other kinds of agents besides antibodies. Similarly, there have been a variety of early immune therapies that failed in the past. These used single agents, such as a single one among the many, many types of immune signaling molecules (e.g., a particular interferon or interleukin), or a single type of agent such as T cells alone, etc. In contrast, dendritic cells mobilize all of these different categories of agents, that make up the whole immune system “army,” in combination with each other and in their natural relationships to each other.
DCVax is designed to target not just one but the full set of biomarkers on the patient’s tumor.
As mentioned above, cancer drugs are typically rifle shots aimed at just one target on a patient’s cancer. However, cancer is a complex and variable disease. Tumor profiles vary among patients with the “same” cancer and also vary as the disease progresses. Further, when rifle shot drugs hit individual targets on cancers, the cancers find ways around them (called “escape”) — and the rifle shot treatments then usually stop working. DCVax takes the opposite approach: instead of aiming at a single target, DCVax is designed at to target the full set of biomarkers on a patient’s cancer. Such a treatment approach is expected to make it more difficult for tumors to develop resistance.
DCVax is personalized, and targets the particular biomarkers expressed on that patient’s tumor.
Extensive scientific evidence has shown that there is variation in tumor profiles and characteristics among patients with the “same” cancer. The degree of variation is particularly enormous in some of the most aggressive cancers, such as GBM brain cancer and pancreatic cancer. Cancer drugs are typically keyed to a single target which is believed to be found on the cancer cells’ surface or in one of the cancer cells’ signaling pathways in a substantial percentage of patients with a given type of cancer. Such drugs can be of no use in patients whose cancers do not happen to express that particular target, or cease expressing that target as the disease progresses. Most cancer drugs only achieve clinical benefits in a limited percentage of the patients with the type of cancer being targeted (e.g., 25 – 30% of the patients). In contrast, DCVax has achieved clinical benefits (i.e., longer delay in disease progression and longer extension of survival than with standard of care treatment) in over 80% of the patients who have received DCVax in clinical trials to date. Since DCVax is made with biomarkers from the patient’s own tumor, it is automatically tailored to targets that are present on that patient’s cancer.