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Cancer Vaccine Development Program and Cancer Insight

Our research focuses on the interaction between the immune system and cancer. Specifically, for the past 20 years, we have been designing, developing, and testing cancer vaccines for their ability to specifically stimulate the host immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells. While this seemed like a distant dream for many years, the FDA-approved the first cancer vaccine, Provenge, in 2010 and the first active specific immunotherapy from BMS in 2011. Two subsequent checkpoint inhibitors have been approved since. These advances have energized the interest in our research and the vaccines that we have been developing for years. Currently, five of our vaccines, E75, GP2, E39, E39’, and AE37 have been licensed out to industry partners. The research that propelled these vaccines to this stage of development was performed by the Cancer Vaccine Development Program (CVDP) founded and directed since its inception in 2000 by COL George E Peoples, MD, FACS. In 2014, Dr. Peoples retired from the military and formed Cancer Insight, a commercial partner to the academic CVDP.

As of 2014, the CVDP was made up of approximately 20 individuals, two labs, and 14 clinical sites including both military and civilian institutions. At that time, the CVDP had completed or was conducting 12 cancer vaccine clinical trials, had enrolled over 700 cancer patients to these studies, and performed over 5000 cancer vaccine inoculations. This research over a dozen years resulted in over 140 national presentations, 80 published manuscripts, 12 patents, and 7 INDs. This research was administered through the Henry M Jackson Foundation and funded from several sources to include congressional grants, societal grants, private foundation grants, and industry collaborations. Importantly, the research was efficiently conducted, and the above was accomplished with approximately $15M in total grant funding. In 2014, Cancer Insight (CI) was formed to augment the CVDP’s capabilities. Since that time, the CVDP/CI has continued to conduct and/or sponsor 3 previously initiated vaccine trials (phase II of GP2, phase II of AE37, and the phase I/IIa E39 trials). Additionally, CI (with the CVDP) has initiated multiple new trials. The CVDP continues as the academic partner of CI.

Our vaccine development strategy hinges on three basic principles: 1) develop vaccines that can target large numbers of cancers and cancer patients, 2) utilize simplistic vaccine approach that can be exported to the community setting, and 3) test the vaccines in the preventive, not therapeutic, setting. The latter approach has distinguished our group from most others who have tried to use vaccines to treat established metastatic tumors without success. All of our trials have targeted cancer patients that have been completely treated by multi-modality therapy and rendered disease-free but who are at high risk for recurrence. We then vaccinate these patients during their disease-free interval while they have an intact immune system and try to prevent their recurrence. Our first phase 2 trial of E75 demonstrated a 50% reduction in recurrences. Our second and third phase 2 trials of GP2 and AE37 have corroborated these results. E75 has entered into a registration phase 3 trial seeking FDA approval. AE37 will be close behind. We are currently investigating our next generation vaccines, combinations of vaccines and other immunotherapies, and novel delivery approaches.