ORYX to expect first clinical data on three novel cancer immunotherapies

February 24, 2015 ctheodoropulos

Six months after introducing itself at BIO-Europe® in Frankfurt, ORYX Translational Medicine arrives at BIO-Europe Spring® in Paris ready to unveil for potential partners the first clinical results from its highly innovative cancer immunotherapy programs.

“I might say that for us the meeting in Frankfurt was like a first serve in tennis, and we had a quite strong return interacting with pharmaceutical companies through a number of discussions,” said Dr. Michael Dahm, a medical doctor and molecular biologist who is the Chief Medical Officer of ORYX. “Now in Paris there is an opportunity to add to those discussions with a body of evidence that includes both preclinical and clinical data.

Dr. Michael Dahm, ORYX

Dr. Michael Dahm, ORYX

“We believe these therapies are so important that they should be expeditiously developed, and we are looking now for a strong, global pharmaceutical partner committed to bringing these assets to patients as soon as possible,” he said.

All three programs originated in the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ), and the University of Heidelberg, which grant ORYX privileged access to the inventions of scientists including Nobel laureate Prof. Dr. Harald zur Hausen, Prof. Dr. Magnus v. Knebel-Döberitz and Prof. Dr. Jean Rommelaere, who are experts in the field of oncology and immunotherapy.

The ORYX portfolio includes an oncolytic virus, ParvOryx, which infects and lyses tumor cells to evoke a strong immune response against the tumor. Two other clinical projects comprise therapeutic cancer vaccines, VicOryx and MicOryx, intended to treat the tumor by enhancing the patient’s natural defenses.

The two vaccines are directed against constantly expressed tumor antigens and are expected to address a subgroup of colorectal cancer patients and high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) induced cancers, such as cervical cancer or head-and-neck cancer, respectively.

“Here we distinguish our approach from other immunotherapies that address potentially changing antigens, which may be subject to up and down regulation within the tumor, especially when the tumor metastasizes. As our targeted tumor antigens are part of the tumor regenesis process, they are maintained throughout the tumor life,” Dahm said.

ParvOryx, the oncolytic parvovirus H-1PV is a wild type replication competent parvovirus of rat origin that infects and lyses tumor cells, leading to cell death. Unlike other natural or modified oncolytic viruses currently under investigation, H-1PV does not affect normal cells and is completely apathogenic for humans.

“While this oncolytic virus is very well described, it has never been brought into clinical development, making us the first to do so. H-1PV has two distinguishing properties, one being its oncolytic effect, a high propensity or exclusivity to go into tumor cells. The second characteristic is the so-called bystander effect. Through oncolysis, tumor cells become scattered, and novel antigens are presented to the immune system. H-1PV will create a sustainable response for the immune system to fight cancer,” said Dr. Dahm, and concluded: “We are proud to report that all three trials show good safety and initial hints of efficacy. Our mission is now accomplished for these three candidates with data confirming that the potential we believed they held is there.”

ORYX Translational Medicine was founded in 2007 by Dr. Bernard Huber, a molecular biologist and patent attorney, who for 20 years managed the patent portfolio of the DKFZ. He found it unfortunate that so many good projects in the institute were not being further developed, nor translated to pharmaceutical applications that could be of benefit to patients. ORYX is unique in Germany as it can offer privileged access to “Made In Germany” science coming out of the German Cancer Research Center.

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