New Cancer Treatment Using The Immune System
Selvax’s goal is to develop a safe, effective, immunological-based treatment for a range of hard to treat solid tumours.
During the past six years, a research team at Curtin University’s School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences led by immunologist Professor Delia Nelson has achieved a major breakthrough in the treatment of cancer by harnessing and amplifying the body’s anti-tumour immune response (self vaccine cancer immunotherapy or Selvax).
The Selvax team combined two immunological agents, both of which are approved for use in humans, and has shown that when the two agents are administered directly into the tumour site they achieved complete regression of large tumours (that were resistant to chemotherapy and to each agent used alone) without toxicity.
The clearance rates achieved in small animal trials were > 80%, for mesothelioma and > 60% in pancreatic cancer. The Selvax treatment didn’t simply slow the cancer in the treated animals, it cured the cancers. In the animals successfully treated the tumours were cleared and did not recur for the life of the animal. The trials also demonstrated that treating a tumour in one location in the animal resulted in the destruction of a second tumour in another part of the body. The potential medical significance of this finding is considerable, given the tendency of many solid tumours to metastasise.
The Selvax approach differs from traditional chemotherapy and radiological treatments in that its goal is to stimulate the patient’s own immune system to kill the cancer. The treatment effectively acts as a vaccine against recurrence of the cancer. It is also unique in that the delivery of the two immunological agents is made directly into the tumour and not systemically, thereby minimising the toxic side effects which had previously been an issue for other cancer immunotherapies (or indeed traditional chemotherapy).
Selvax has co-developed and tested a liposome based intravenous delivery system for its immunotherapy in collaboration with the head of a research group at the Australian National University.
The Selvax technology is wholly owned by Selvax Pty Ltd and the company itself is jointly owned by Curtin University and a group of Australian private investors.