Scancell taps lung cancer nonprofit to accelerate trial recruitment

Trial of firm's second ImmunoBody candidate will start next year.

U.K. biotech Scancell is taking no chances when it comes to carrying out trials of its candidate vaccine for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

The company has joined forces with the Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute (ALCMI) and Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) to make sure that its planned phase 1/2 trial of immunotherapy SCIB2—due to start next year—recruits patients as quickly as possible.  

The deal means it can tap into ALCMI's international network of clinical investigator sites as well as ALCF's patient support programs to find suitable trial candidates—which should allow it to take the trial from start to finish in 18 months, says the biotech. Last October, Scancell said it was assembling an investigation team to assist in finalising the NSCLC trial design.

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Scancell was forced to delay a long-running melanoma trial last year after the initial batch of vaccine passed its shelf-life, requiring a new supply to be produced. The study of SCIB1 had been ongoing since 2010 and has since been completed, showing that the vaccine reduced tumor load and produced melanoma-specific immune responses, with a trend towards improved survival.

The new batch is being used for a long-term extension position of the phase 1/2 study and also for a new trial testing SCB1 in tandem with checkpoint inhibitors.

Scancell also plans to follow a similar route with its NSCLC candidate, an antibody DNA vaccine encoding NY-ESO-1 epitopes, saying that preclinical data suggests it could be an "ideal complement to existing and emerging checkpoint inhibitor therapies to treat NSCLC." The phase 1/2 trial is due to get underway next year.

SCIB1 and SCIB2 are the lead candidates in Scancell's portfolio of ImmunoBody vaccines, which are designed to stimulate T-cell responses to malignant cells.

In a research note, Panmure Gordon's Mike Mitchell said that Scancell is shaping up for a big year and that the company is a "seriously overlooked player" in the cancer immunotherapy sector, according to a Proactive Investors report.