TapImmune’s cancer immunotherapy technology platform combines unique and proprietary sets of peptide antigens designed to elicit both killer T-cell (CD8) and helper T-cell (CD4) immune responses against well-characterized molecular targets that correlate with disease prognosis.
The company’s T-cell cancer vaccines are directed against specific surface proteins present on the majority of target tumor cells. They are comprised of naturally processed antigens derived from human immune responses that are recognized by more than 85% of the population, and they include a mix of antigens that are displayed by MHC class I and II molecules. TapImmune is therefore able to direct a uniquely robust and durable anti-tumor immune response across a wider patient population.
This comprehensive approach to cancer immunotherapy separates TapImmune from others in the field developing immune-modulating technologies that elicit only CD4 or CD8 T-cell responses, or none at all (i.e. no direct tumor cell killing). TapImmune’s next-generation vaccine technology is designed to address and potentially complement deficiencies seen in other immuno-oncology approaches like adoptive T-cell therapies, immune checkpoint blockades, and monoclonal antibody therapies like Herceptin, which is only effective in approx. 15-20% of patients, can only be used effectively for one year, and merely slows cancer growth without addressing either T-cell response required to actively target and eliminate cancer cells. Despite these shortcomings, Herceptin has annual sales in excess of $6.4 billion (2015).
TapImmune is advancing two clinical stage T-cell vaccine candidates in multiple Phase II and Phase Ib/IIa clinical trials for treating ovarian and breast cancers, including programs in ovarian cancer that will benefit from FDA Fast Track and Orphan Disease Designation. The company is working in collaboration with industry and clinical leaders including Mayo Clinic, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and AstraZeneca.
PROPRIETARY ANTIGEN EXPRESSION SYSTEM
TapImmune’s novel and ground-breaking peptide expression system, PolyStart™, is an enabling technology that makes DNA-based immunotherapies more effective. Compared to existing antigen expression technologies, PolyStart can significantly amplify the visibility of a target antigen, which enhances the recognition of target cells by the immune system (i.e. T-cells), thereby increasing the efficiency with which target cells can be identified and eliminated. It has the potential to increase the potency of any existing DNA vaccine, including those in development or already on the market.
PolyStart is a unique plasmid DNA construct that expresses four or more peptides for each molecule of mRNA, rather than the dogmatic one DNA = one RNA = one protein. This proprietary technology was invented and is fully owned by TapImmune and has applications in immuno-oncology as well as other areas such as infectious disease. It can be applied to the company’s current T-cell vaccine candidates as well as drive incremental value for TapImmune through strategic out-licensing and/or collaboration with other companies.
PolyStart is currently in preclinical development.