SAN DIEGO, July 25, 2019 - PersImmune, Inc., a pioneering cellular therapy company based in San Diego, today announces the opening of the sample collection protocol portion of its study for patients with myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS, at a second clinical site, UC Irvine's Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Care Center. Blood samples are collected from patients with MDS before they can become eligible for PersImmune's clinical trial. The purpose of the study, titled Personalized Adoptive Cellular Therapy for Neoantigens, or PACTN, is to test the safety of PersImmune's novel, highly-specific approach to cellular therapy based on each patient's own unique tumor signature and the patient's T cells that respond to them. PersImmune is committed to developing cancer treatments that are safe and well-tolerated to help patients retain their quality of life during and after cancer treatment.
What is PACTN?
The PACTN technology is based on a protocol invented by PersImmune CEO and Co-Founder, Dr. Antonella Vitiello, PharmD, a leader in the field of immunology and a cancer survivor. The PACTN protocol is focused on the treatment of myelodysplastic syndrome and is in a Phase 1 clinical trial at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center's MDS Center of Excellence under Dr. Rafael Bejar, MD/PhD. The first cohort was completed without displaying significant toxicity; patients whose original prognosis was ~6 months at diagnosis are now doing well at 17+ months in combination with other therapies.
PersImmune's proprietary protocol identifies the DNA alterations present in a patient's cancer cells and any responses to these from the patient's own T cells; and is able to generate quantities of these mutation-specific T cells for infusion that target only the patient's tumor cells and spares their normal cells, resulting in a treatment that is safer and causes far less toxicity to the patient than other cancer treatments.
How PACTN differs from other treatments for MDS
"The advantage of this approach is that without having to reprogram the cells genetically, without having to edit them or perform any sort of genetic engineering, we can select those that are particularly reactive against the patient's own cancer and their own tumor cells. And that hopefully affords us greater safety, greater specificity, and avoidance of having to use immunosuppressant medications like you might in an allogeneic transplant or a stem cell transplant," said Dr. Bejar. "This technology is not specific to just MDS. It's able to be generalized to any disease where mutations have been acquired over a person's lifetime. All sorts of different cancers have this kind of feature, where the cancer has mutations that are not present in normal cells, and if you can raise an immune response against those specific changes, then we will have a cancer-specific therapy... it isn't just applicable to MDS, or acute myeloid leukemia, it's really applicable to any kind of cancer."
"MDS, like a lot of cancers, is very mixed, or heterogenous, no two patients are the same; that's what makes it very challenging to treat these patients." said Dr. Tiffany Tanaka, MD, who treats patients with hematologic disorders at the Moores Cancer Center. "The same treatment and the same dose of a medication won't work the same in each patient. That's what's so special about the Persimmune treatment, that it's individualized to the patient-specific tumor cells."
Personalized Adoptive Cellular Therapy Targeting Neoantigens (PACTN) vs. CAR-T
"It's a very highly personalized approach to cancer and immunotherapy as opposed to CAR-T cells wherein the target is always the same... in the diseases that we're targeting, for example myelodysplastic syndrome and other blood malignancies, there isn't a very specific universal target that one can use for an immunotherapeutic approach. Each patient's malignancy is different," said Dr. Thomas Lane, MD, the Chief Medical Officer of PersImmune. "So, the virtue of our approach is we can address each patient's very individualized malignancy, malignant cells, and target them very specifically."
How to Enroll in the PACTN Clinical Trial for MDS
The PACTN trial is currently enrolling patients who have been diagnosed with MDS and are age 18 or older. For more information about the trial and how to enroll, please visit https://persimmune.com/clinical-trial
PersImmune is based in San Diego, CA. PersImmune is a clinical-stage immunotherapy company whose mission is to provide cancer patients with optimized immunotherapy personalized on the basis of their own unique tumor signature. PersImmune's proprietary protocol, Personal Adoptive Cell Therapy for Neoantigens (PACTN) identifies the DNA alterations present in the cancer cells of each patient and generates enriched, tested, highly-specific T-cells that effectively kill the patient's tumor cells. Personalized adoptive cellular therapy has the potential to transform the field of cancer treatment by providing safe, highly-tolerable, effective immunotherapy to cancer patients.
PersImmune was founded in 2010 by Dr. Antonella Vitiello, who was diagnosed and treated for a rare form of ovarian cancer in 2009. While Dr. Vitiello's chemotherapy treatment was successful, she experienced debilitating side effects and had limited options in case of relapse. She began developing a cancer treatment based on her work in adoptive T cell transfer technology and co-founded PersImmune with support from investors John and Rafaela Belanich.
About the UC Irvine Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center MDS Center of Excellence
The UCI Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center (CFCCC) is the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center in Orange County. CFCCC serves as a vital resource for Orange County and surrounding areas in the fight to alleviate the burden of cancer, integrating world-class research, prevention and the most advanced diagnostics, treatment and rehabilitation programs to provide the best possible care for patients and their families.
Dr. Deepa Jeyakumar is board-certified in medical oncology, and specializes in patients with hematologic malignancies. She treats patients with leukemias, lymphomas, myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloma at CFCCC. She is also an assistant clinical professor at UCI Health in the division of hematology/oncology.
About the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center MDS Center of Excellence
Moores Cancer Center is an MDS Center of Excellence designated by the Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation. It is one of just six in California and the only one in San Diego County. Dr. Rafael Bejar, MD, PhD, established the MDS Center of Excellence at Moores Cancer Center to provide patients the best diagnostic tools, supportive care, clinical trials, and medical expertise in one center.
Dr. Rafael Bejar is board-certified in internal medicine, oncology, and hematology, with a special interest in hematologic malignancies (blood cancers). He specializes in the care of patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and related blood disorders. Dr. Bejar is a physician scientist who in addition to caring for patients, runs a research laboratory dedicated to the study of MDS. His focus is to discover disease features that can be used to personalize the care of patients with MDS.