TAMPA, Fla. – A new research partnership could lead to expanded immunotherapy options for patients with many types of cancer. Moffitt Cancer Center has entered into a licensing agreement with MultiVir Inc. The two companies will work together to develop a personalized cancer vaccine. The therapeutic vaccine is comprised of a patient's dendritic cells, a type of immune cell, which are treated with a genetically-engineered adenovirus carrying the human p53 gene (Ad-p53).   

The Ad-p53 Dendritic Cell Vaccine is an investigational immuno-stimulatory therapy jointly invented by Moffitt scientists and investigators at MultiVir. Its goal is to activate cancer-fighting immune cells to target the abnormal tumor suppressor p53 that is overexpressed in nearly 50 percent of all cancers.

Moffitt has initiated a clinical trial evaluating the use of the Ad-p53 Dendritic Cell Vaccine in combination with the immunotherapy drugs Opdivo® (nivolumab) and Yervoy® (ipilimumab) in patients with relapsed/recurrent small cell lung cancer. MultiVir will provide support for the manufacturing of the dendritic cell vaccine while Bristol-Myers Squibb will provide Opdivo and Yervoy and funding for the Moffitt investigator-initiated phase 2 trial.

“This investigational therapy could provide a new approach for patients with relapsed/recurrent small cell lung cancer. This group of patients, which is about 15 percent of all lung cancer patients, has a low survival rate depending on what stage the cancer is when diagnosed,” said Scott Antonia, M.D., Ph.D., co-inventor of the vaccine and chair of the Thoracic Oncology Department at Moffitt. “We hope this combination therapy will spark the immune system to attack the cancer with minimal side effects for the patient.”

“There is a lot of potential with this investigational therapy. The p53 mutation is seen in almost half of all cancers. If there is success in small cell lung cancer, there could be an opportunity to expand the vaccine’s use for other cancers,” said Albert A. Chiappori, M.D., co-principal investigator of the clinical trial and senior member of the Thoracic Oncology Department at Moffitt.

The primary completion date for the trial, which is currently accruing patients, is April 2020.

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The Tampa-based facility is one of only 49 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt’s scientific excellence, multidisciplinary research, and robust training and education. Moffitt is a Top 10 cancer hospital and has been nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report since 1999. Moffitt devotes more than 2 million square feet to research and patient care. Moffitt’s expert nursing staff is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet® status, its highest distinction. With more than 5,700 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $2.1 billion. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488), visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the momentum on FacebookTwitter and YouTube