Health

The British Firm Using Tech to Target Cancer

As Cancer Continues to Claim Victims Across the World, Tech Firms are Joining the Search for a Cure

16.04.2018 | by Kezia Parkins
Photo by No Greater Joy Industries
Photo by No Greater Joy Industries

Cancer remains as one of the most significant diseases affecting mankind today. Each year, over 12.7 million people are diagnosed with the condition, with an estimated 7.6 million people dying from the disease.

The statistics stand in spite of the fact that over 30% of these deaths can be prevented through early diagnosis and treatment. Given the continuing prominence of the disease in the world, it is no surprise that increasing numbers of tech firms are researching methods of combating cancer and its associated symptoms.

A key challenge in the battle against cancer is the fight against aggressive tumours, which, in the cases of cancer, continue to grow by effectively evading the body’s own natural defence. Whilst a new class of immunotherapy drugs called checkpoint inhibitors yield promising results in previously untreatable cancers, they are only effective in a limited proportion of cases and may have inflammatory side-effects.

Scancell, a British biotechnology firm, has become celebrated for its pioneering of products that stimulate the immune system to both treat and prevent the occurrence of cancer. Cancer vaccines such as those pioneered by Scancell represent a precision cancer treatment strategy which stimulates the immune system to attack cancer cells without affecting other cells in the body.

Founded in 1997 as the brainchild of the University of Nottingham, Scancell has secured over £23 million in funding since its inception, with the company selling its pipeline of direct killing monoclonal antibodies to Australian biopharmaceutical company Arana Therapeutics in 2006. The deal provided Scannell with the necessary capital to research immunotherapy further, whilst also allowing the company to focus all of its efforts into ImmunoBody and Moditope — the cancer vaccine programmes spearheaded by the company.

Scancell Logo

Scancell has become celebrated for their cancer-combating products – ImmunoBody activates the body’s immune system by enhancing the uptake and presentation of cancer antigens, helping to target and eliminate cancer cells. Scancell’s second ImmunoBody therapy targets an antigen called NY-ESO-1, which is expressed on a range of solid tumours including NSCLC and oesophageal, ovarian, bladder and prostate cancers — as well as neuroblastoma, melanoma and sarcoma. The British firm recently embarked on a Clinical Development Partnership with Cancer Research UK — a deal which spawned Project Blueprint. The project seeks to eliminate tumours using specific vaccines with Modi-3, a product from Scancell’s Moditope platform, which will be assessed alongside vaccines that target new mutations.This collaboration will ensure that this innovative vaccine reaches patients sooner and could bring about urgently needed improvements for some cancers which can be hard to treat, including lung cancer – a disease where survival rates remain stubbornly low.

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