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Agenus Inc. (AGEN) Announces Presentation of New Phase 2 Trial Data on Glioma Vaccine

Agenus Inc. just announced that it will be presenting new data from a Phase 2 trial of the Prophage G-200 vaccine (HSPPC-96; vitespen) in recurrent glioma. The company intends making a poster presentation during the 2011 ASCO Annual Meeting, slated for June 3-7 in Chicago, IL. Abstracts are now available at ASCO’s website

The abstract (#2565), by Parsa, et al, is titled “Autologous heat shock protein vaccine (HSPPC-96) for patients with recurrent glioblastoma (GBM): Results of a Phase 2 multicenter clinical trial with immunological assessments.”

According to the company, its Prophage vaccines are “patient-specific therapeutic cancer vaccine candidates.” Prophage vaccines contain the heat shock protein (learn more at, gp96, and associated peptides that are purified from the patient’s own tumor tissue. Prophage vaccines are designed to target only cancerous cells, not healthy normal cells. As a result, Prophage vaccines are designed to limit the toxicities associated with traditional broad-acting cancer treatments.

There are two ongoing Prophage Phase 2 clinical trials testing the company’s G-100 and G-200 candidates in newly diagnosed and recurrent glioma. Trial sponsorship comes from Dr. Andrew Parsa of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), with supporting funding from the American Brain Tumor Association, the Accelerated Brain Cancer Cure, the National Brain Tumor Society, and the National Cancer Institute Special Programs of Research Excellence.

The second glioma trial in newly diagnosed patients involves administration of G-100 in combination with radiation and Temodar (Merck; temozolomide) (Merck, NYSE: MRK). Due to encouraging early results, says the company, the trial has been expanded to include up to 10 leading brain tumor research centers in the U.S.

Agenus is also involved in development of treatments for infectious diseases, notably genital herpes. Its “Herp V” drug has already cleared Phase 1 trials. The company website describes the drug as a “polyvalent off-the-shelf therapeutic heat shock protein-based vaccine for treatment of genital herpes…” that has completed Phase 1 clinical testing, and consists of “recombinant human heat shock protein-70 complexed with multiple distinct antigens from the HSV-2 proteome.”

The Herp V drug works by stimulating the immune system to create a much higher level of CD4 and CD8 Killer T cells. Such cells have been known to be present at higher levels in people with immunity to the herpes simplex virus (HSV) and tend to remain present near the site of an outbreak for some time after it heals. The same cells have cleared the virus in the spinal cords and neurologic tissue in mice, though it is not yet certain that it can do so in humans.

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