Tiny Stemline's brain cancer vax grabs a little of ASCO's limelight

With headlines at ASCO zeroing in on star cancer drugs like vemurafenib, crizotinib and cabozantinib, it was difficult for some of the smaller biotechs on the scene to share in the limelight. But Xconomy zeroed in on one tiny developer which journeyed to Chicago to discuss some promising, early-stage data it's gathered on a small group of advanced brain cancer patients.

New York-based Stemline Therapeutics has been studying a therapeutic vaccine dubbed SL-701, which spurs the immune system to tackle cancer stem cells--widely suspected of playing a key role in driving the spread of cancer. Stemline, which has a dozen staffers, says that two of its advanced malignant glioma patients in an early study experienced remission while a 10-year-old's tumors shrunk by half. Stemline also has a program called SL-401 for blood cancers.

"They hit the non-stem-cells, as well as the stem cells," CEO Ivan Bergstein tells the tech news operation.  "Our prediction is that the dual effect will make the tumor shrinkage more durable" than it is with standard chemo and radiation. And Bergstein adds that the investigators tracked a clear survival benefit in the study.

Stemline in-licensed SL-701 from the University of Pittsburgh. In a release put out prior to ASCO, the biotech reported that of the two durable complete responses tracked in Phase I/II, one of the responses was still ongoing at 18 months. Two other patients experienced partial remissions.

- read the Stemline release
- here's the story from Xconomy