Pink Bio May Move Markets with Cancer Vaccine News Print E-mail
By M.E.Garza   
Monday, 01 June 2009 04:39

[Update 06/02/09-- On Monday after this report first appeared, shares of this stock rose to as high as $1.50 before settling at $.88 for a gain of 79.59%.]

The news this weekend was big for a some of the companies presenting data in front of the American Society of Clinical Oncology- the nation’s largest gathering of cancer doctors which took place in Orlando.

One small company in particular had news, literally all over the media, and may be poised to move the market. It involves a cancer vaccine being developed by Biovest International (OTC: BVTI.PK).

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Companies doing work in these cancer vaccines say their treatments do not prevent cancer, but instead try to find a way to train the body’s own immune system to attack the tumor. Until now, there had been mostly failures in this field, but there are now signs that progress may be occuring.

Last month, shares of Dendreon Corp (NASDAQ:DNDN) tripled in early trading the morning after it was announced that their experimental vaccine- PROVENGE(R)- improved survival in men with advanced forms of prostate cancer, bolstering chances of it becoming the first approved therapeutic vaccine for any type of cancer.

Now, scientists from Biovest International say the vaccine- BiovaxID®- extended the remission of a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma to about 44 months, compared with 31 months for a control group.

“These results should open the door for more work with vaccines, for both blood cancers and solid tumors,” said Dr. Larry Kwak, chairman of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center department of lymphoma (and myeloma and the lymphoma trial’s principal investigator). “We’re finally at the point where the promise is beginning to be realized.”

Two other companies, Genitope (OTC:GTOP) and Favrille, tested vaccines similar to Biovest’s and failed. Biovest might have succeeded because it required patients to first be in remission for six months or longer.

Kwak told the Houston Chronicle that the key to the breakthrough was that the trial only enrolled patients whose immune system had not already been beaten up by numerous regimens of chemotherapy, the classic profile of experimental drug participants. He suggested the harm to the immune systems of such patients is a big reason why previous vaccine trials may have failed.

BiovaxID demonstrated a favorable safety profile and was very well-tolerated by patients. Further studies are planned to examine the role of BiovaxID in patients with other B-cell lymphomas such as mantle cell lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and multiple myeloma. In addition, new lymphoma studies will evaluate the addition of BiovaxID booster maintenance therapy, which is expected to even further improve survival benefits by maximizing the chance of continuously maintaining complete remissions.

“BiovaxID is a 100% personalized medicine with each vaccine unique to each patient,” stated Biovest’s Chairman and CEO, Francis E. O’Donnell, Jr., M.D. in a company press release.

“Despite the failures of other lymphoma vaccines and

the skepticism in general towards patient-specific cancer immunotherapies, our unprecedented results presented today are a tribute to the more than 37 years of dedicated vision and

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labor by researchers dating back to the first mouse studies using this approach in the early 1970s. We congratulate and
thank all that have been involved at every level in developing this ultimate targeted therapy, with special recognition to the National Cancer Institute, who with our Biovest team, advanced BiovaxID in human clinical trials. And we also offer our profound thanks to the investigators, and more importantly to the patients that participated in our Phase II and Phase III clinical trials, as their courage in fighting this insidious disease is inspiring. It is only because of their contribution, and with the support of their family and friends, that such potential breakthrough new therapies can be evaluated and ultimately made available to all patients in need.”

Biovest International, which plans to market the vaccine under the name BiovaxID, has already begun talks with the FDA to seek conditional approval. The melanoma vaccine has no commercial sponsor. Both Biovest and its majority owner, Accentia Biopharmaceuticals, filed for bankruptcy protection in November, after they were unable to raise financing from investors. The company now hopes to find a bigger partner.

For more updates from ASCO, read Mike Havrilla's Article as well as these two other reports:

Keryx Biopharmaceuticals Reports Positive Data About Advanced Metastatic Colon Cancer Treatment

Antigenics Presents Positive Data at ASCO

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