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Generex Subsidiary Antigen Express Provides Update on AE37 Cancer Vaccine’s Clinical & Regulatory Strategy
Positive interim results from Phase 2b breast cancer study of AE37 presented last month at a major scientific breast cancer conference enable update to clinical development & regulatory strategy and the potential for earlier completion of key scientific milestone.
Generex Biotechnology Corporation (OTCBB: GNBT) today provided an update to the clinical development & regulatory strategy for its cancer vaccine, AE37. Positive interim Phase 2b clinical data from the study in HER-2 expressing breast cancer subjects (presented last month at the 34th Annual CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) in San Antonio, Texas) has led to an earlier-than-expected advancement in the overall development of AE37 for both breast and prostate cancer indications.
AE37 is a novel Ii-Key Hybrid-based HER-2/neu Peptide Vaccine designed to train the immune system, independent of HLA-type, to track down cancer cells throughout the body and destroy them. The positive interim Phase 2b results, building upon completed pre-clinical and Phase I breast cancer studies, enables Antigen Express to move up the timing of key development and regulatory plans. In particular, the company will organize an End-of-Phase 2 meeting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by the end of Q1 2012. With the FDA’s guidance, the Company will move into a pivotal Phase 3 clinical development program in women with loco-regional breast cancer that express low to moderate levels of HER2. Parallel steps will be taken with the European Medicines Agency using the same Phase 2b results. The Phase 2b is currently planned to enroll a total of 300 women and will continue as planned to provide additional valuable information on efficacy and safety of AE37 as the Company pursues its Phase 3 trial plans.
Dr. Eric von Hofe , Ph.D., President of Antigen Express, said: “While the number of patients with recurrent breast cancer is still too low to confirm statistical significance in this ongoing study, the approximate 46% reduction in breast cancer recurrence in low HER2 expressing tumors together with excellent safety enables us to move forward in requesting an End-of-Phase II meeting with the FDA.”
Importantly, the majority of women with loco-regional breast cancer have low to moderate expressing HER2 tumors and currently are treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy only. There is no approved targeted HER2 therapy for these women.
“We are excited and committed to move the AE37 cancer vaccine through the appropriate scientific and regulatory steps,” commented Mark Fletcher , President & Chief Executive Officer of Generex. “AE37 not only continues to move closer to market approval but also provides validation for the underlying Ii-Key technology platform upon which it is based.”
Phase I studies clearly identified the potential for AE37 to induce the immune system to focus on the HER2 protein through helper (CD4) and cytotoxic (CD8) immune cells in patients. The HER2 protein is expressed on a high percentage of cancers in the breast, prostate, ovaries, gastro-intestinal tract, and lung. In two Phase I trials, AE37 has demonstrated a good safety profile in both breast and prostate cancer patients.
The AE37 cancer vaccine has also completed a Phase 1 trial in prostate cancer demonstrating appropriate dosing and immune activation similar to that seen in the breast cancer trials. The Phase 2b breast trial results add to AE37’s database on tolerability and safety and have raised the possibility of using AE37 early in prostate cancer therapy. With the Phase 2b breast cancer trial suggesting immune activation by AE37 could control breast cancer and seeing similar immune activation in the Phase I prostate trial, the Company is encouraged to move AE37 cancer vaccine more rapidly into larger clinical trials in men with newly diagnosed HER2 positive prostate cancer. These Phase 2 trials are being designed with leading oncologists in prostate cancer.
About AE37 and Ii-Key Hybrid Platform Technology
Antigen Express is a platform technology and product-based company developing proprietary vaccine formulations for large, unmet medical needs. The Company’s Ii-Key Hybrid technology platform entails the modification of fragments of antigens to increase their potency in stimulating critical members of the immune response, known as CD4+ T helper cells. Incorporating the Ii-Key modification along with tumor-associated antigens can greatly enhance the immune system’s ability to recognize and destroy cancer cells bearing any of the targeted antigens as well as increasing immunological memory.
The first product candidate utilizing the Company’s novel Ii-Key Hybrid technology platform is a HER-2/neu Peptide Vaccine (AE37). This “off-the-shelf” cancer immunotherapy product candidate is easier and less costly to produce than comparable cell-based approaches. AE37 is derived from a peptide fragment of the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) oncoprotein, which is expressed in a variety of tumors including 75-80% of breast cancers as well as a high percentage of prostate, ovarian and other cancers. AE37 represents the only HER2-based peptide vaccine currently being studied in a randomized trial and its use is not restricted to patients with a particular type of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) peptide.
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 232,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and nearly 40,000 will die from the disease, in 2011. For women whose cancer tests positive for increased quantities of the HER2, approved targeted therapies include trastuzumab (Herceptin®; Roche-Genentech). However, only 25% of breast cancer patients have HER2 levels high enough to be eligible for Herceptin. AE37 is positioned initially as an adjuvant therapy for at least 50% of breast cancer patients; i.e., those with low-to-intermediate levels of HER2 expression.
About Generex Biotechnology Corporation
Generex is engaged in the research, development, and commercialization of drug delivery systems and technologies. Generex has developed a proprietary platform technology for the delivery of drugs into the human body through the oral cavity (with no deposit in the lungs). The Company’s proprietary liquid formulations allow drugs typically administered by injection to be absorbed into the body by the lining of the inner mouth using the Company’s proprietary RapidMist™ device. Antigen Express, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Generex. The core platform technologies of Antigen Express comprise immunotherapeutic vaccines for the treatment of malignant, infectious, allergic, and autoimmune diseases. Antigen Express has pioneered the use of specific CD4+ T-helper stimulation in immunotherapy. One of its platform technologies relies on inhibition of expression of the Ii protein. Antigen Express scientists, and others, have shown clearly that suppression of expression of the Ii protein in cancer cells allows for potent stimulation of T-helper cells and prevents the further growth of cancer cells.
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