Archived Press Releases
March 18, 1998
Stanford Rook and Onyvax Sign Cancer Vaccine
Stanford Rook Holdings plc (SRH) and Onyvax Limited have entered
into an agreement for the clinical evaluation of a combination of
SRH's proprietary Th1 adjuvant, SRL172 and Onyvax's cell-based vaccines
for the treatment of cancer. It is believed that this combination
will be capable of generating a powerful immune response against
tumours while offering a high degree of safety and minimal side-effects.
Professor Angus Dalgleish, Research Director of Onyvax said: "We
are very excited by the prospect of using SRL172 in combination
with our vaccines. From work with SRL172 alone it is clear that
the Th1 type of immune response that is generated can have an objective
anti-tumour effect. The combination of SRL 172 with our vaccine
should provide not only the correct type of response but also direct
it with high specificity against a broad range of targets on tumour
Onyvax will fund the development programme and be responsible for
clinical trials, the first of which is expected to commence in 1998
in prostate cancer. The principle of stimulating the immune system
to attack cancer may prove to be effective against a broad range
of tumour types, and the clinical programme will be extended to
include other major cancers in the near future.
The agreement gives Onyvax a right of first refusal to take an
exclusive licence to develop SRL 172 for use in combination with
certain cell-based vaccines in specified cancers. Financial terms
of this agreement have not been published.
Dr David Kennard, Chief Operating Officer of SRH commented, "This
agreement represents a further advance in the company's strategy
to exploit the growing demand for effective Th1 adjuvants, vital
components of a new generation of therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines".
- Cancer cells are generally incapable of stimulating an effective
immune response and are, therefore, able to multiply unchecked.
It is known that cancer cells differ from normal cells in a number
of ways including the expression of certain specific proteins
(tumour-specific antigens) on their surface. By using modified
whole cancer cells as the basis of a vaccine, Onyvax believes
that it can stimulate an immune response against these tumour-specific
proteins, including those that have yet to be identified. The
immune system can be activated by a vaccine in different ways
and it is widely believed that a Th1 response is required for
effective anti-tumour activity. SRL172 is a potent Th1 adjuvant
which dramatically improves the effectiveness of cell-based vaccines
in models of cancer.
- Stanford Rook Holdings plc is an AIM listed UK-based biopharmaceutical
- Founded in 1997, Onyvax is an unquoted company which is based
at St George's Hospital Medical School. Onyvax is researching
and developing cancer vaccines for a range of major solid cancers,
building on work in the laboratory of its Research Director, Professor
Angus Dalgleish. Professor Dalgleish has extensive experience
in the use of cancer vaccines and has been principal investigator
in a number of clinical trials. Last year, Onyvax received venture
funding from a syndicate led by 3i and Alta Berkeley with S R
One and Wallenberg Trust providing additional funds.