ZUG, Switzerland, Dec. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Licence extension in the contract between AmVac and the Helmholtz Centre for the adjuvant Malp-2 offers sustainable potential for patients, attending physicians and for pharmaceutical and medical research.
Milestone thanks to licence extension
The licence for Malp-2 was successfully extended in November 2014. The adjuvant can now be used for the first time for all preventive and therapeutic applications, for example in cancers, especially pancreatic cancer, opening a new chapter in the success story of Malp-2. Previously, the adjuvant has been combined in the preclinical phase with a variety of vaccines, enabling the dose of the vaccine to be reduced while simultaneously increasing its effectiveness.
A win-win-win situation has now been created: the person vaccinated gets a twofold benefit and the manufacturer saves significantly on costs. And thanks to the exclusive licence agreement now agreed with the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig, AmVac will be able to significantly extend the scope of application of Malp-2. The focus here is on the treatment of certain cancers such as pancreatic cancer, where the drug offers promising opportunities. Malp-2 can be used together with other drugs or in isolation.
Study shows that Malp-2 can extend the life of cancer patients
Back in 2007, a study conducted at the University Hospital Heidelberg showed that Malp-2 can open up new possibilities. The study was primarily designed to demonstrate a safe use of Malp-2 in pancreatic cancer patients and, secondarily, to confirm the initial indications of its effectiveness against cancer. It was successfully shown that Malp-2 can be used safely in people and that it leads to a significant prolongation of survival time. Initial indications point to an efficient activation of the body’s immune system, which is directed against the cancerous tissue. This is a process that is normally actively suppressed by the cancer.
Detailed information on Malp-2 and its applications can be found on the website of Professor Peter Mühlradt at http://malp-research.de/index.html .
The next development step is a clinical phase II study, which will involve the accurate detection of the adjuvant’s effectiveness depending on the dose as well as further clarification of the mode of action of Malp-2 against cancer. Thanks to the licence extension, the potential of AmVac AG should also increase considerably. "With the multitude of options, we can significantly strengthen our pipeline and broaden the range of applications significantly," highlights Melinda Karpati, CEO of AmVac. Also to be seen as a positive sign is the fact that, under the licence agreement, the Helmholtz Institute will increase the equity interest it has held to date in AmVac.
Adenocarcinoma of the pancreas and its variants is one of the most common malignant tumours. Adenocarcinoma is the name given to malignant tumours formed from glandular tissue. Causing 18,000 to 100,000 new cases a year, it is the third most common cancer of the digestive tract. Pancreatic cancer accounts for about 3 percent of cancers in Germany and is ranked in ninth place for men and in seventh place for women. In Switzerland, around 1,100 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year, which also corresponds to about 3 percent of all cancers. Particularly striking here is the high mortality rate: in Europe this cancer is ranked between fourth and seventh place depending on the country.
What is Malp-2?
Malp-2 is what is known as a prospective drug. It is a small molecule consisting of a lipid part and a peptide part. Malp-2 activity was discovered by accident in cell cultures that were contaminated with mycoplasmas. Mycoplasmas are very small bacteria that were once believed to be viruses, because they pass through filters that retain bacteria.
Malp-2 works like this: we have an ‘innate’ and an ‘adaptive’ immune system with a memory for diseases that have been successfully overcome, for example. The innate immune system consists among other things of phagocytes, including macrophages. The adaptive immune system is composed of other white blood cells, the lymphocytes. Macrophages and dendritic cells (which monitor the immune system) work together through messengers and cell contacts with lymphocytes. In mice, Malp-2 has increased the production of antibodies, and it has also accelerated the healing of chronic wounds in obese mice. These animals develop diabetes and it is as difficult for their wounds to heal as it is for their human counterparts. Furthermore, Malp-2 has been injected during surgery on humans into tumours that were inoperable. It has proved possible to extend the survival of patients with pancreatic cancer in this way.
AmVac is a biopharmaceutical company that develops and markets innovative vaccines. Its headquarters are in Zug, Switzerland, and it has research laboratories in Germany and Italy and a production facility in Hungary. This international company can thus rely on the expertise of European specialists who are leaders in their field.
The company’s portfolio currently includes five vaccine candidates and three platform technologies – Gynevac, Sendai and Malp. They are licensed by a Hungarian partner and leading German institutes of the Helmholtz- und Max-Planck-Gesellschaft.
AmVac’s leading product is Gynevac, which has already been approved for selected indications and regions and is currently being widely developed for the treatment of especially frequent urogenital diseases. Thanks to its unparalleled security profile, it has been possible for the first time to offer an effective and virtually side effect-free treatment or prevention of benign prostate enlargement, inflammation of the prostate, bacterial vaginitis and trichomonas infection.