AI-powered cancer vaccine enters clinical trials

AI-driven immunotherapies

Date: 9th January 2020

Artificial intelligence is potentially a powerful accelerator in therapeutic research and development. Now the announcement of the start of two clinical trials in which an AI-powered vaccine will be tailored to patients has been announced by Transgene and NEC Corporation, bringing this technology into the digital age.

Transgene is a biotechnology company based in France.  Their focus is on designing and developing the next-generation of immunotherapies.  Their individualised immunotherapies, in this case TG4050, uses a virus based immunotherapy platform called myvac™.  myvac™ is designed to stimulate and educate the patient’s immune system to recognise and destroy tumours using a patient’s own cancer specific genetic mutations. Once administered to the patient, myvac™ triggers a cascade of immune responses against a variety of targets found in the cancer cells.

NEC Corporation is a Japanese multinational information technology and electronics company, with expertise in AI.  They are harnessing the predictive power of their Neoantigen Prediction System to select patient-specific neoantigens (cancer cell mutations) for TG4050 to target.  Their predictive AI system has been trained on proprietary immune data, and can accurately select and prioritise immune sequences for targeting.

By combining the tech from both companies, NEC’s unique algorithm will select up to 30 patient-specific antigens for TG4050 to target.  By doing this it is hoped that it will enable this novel vaccine to induce a stronger immune response in patients whilst bringing together AI and big data science into a therapeutic setting.

The two trials will enrol and treat an estimated 13 patients for ovarian cancer (NCT03839524 ) and around 30 patients for squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck  (NCT04183166).

With the recent failure of two clinical trials from Transgene in 2019 – a phase III oncolytic virus liver cancer trail with SillaJen, and a phase II trial using TG4010 in a clinical collaboration agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb –  it is an critical time for the company and it hoped that this recent announcement will show more promising results.

Certainly preclinical data announced by Transgene and BioInvent in December last year showed encouraging results for BT-001 (an oncolytic virus expressing an anti-CTLA4 antibody and the cytokine GM-CSF) in solid tumours.  The companies have also confirmed they intend to submit a clinical trial application in the first half of this year.

With 2020 set to be a crucial year in determining the success or failure of the next generation of therapeutics, we will be keeping our eyes out for new developments.  We hope that the incorporation of AI into this field drives the design of safer, more efficient therapies.

For more information please read the press release from Transgene

or for company information see our synthetic biology maps