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March 18, 1998

Stanford Rook and Onyvax Sign Cancer Vaccine Collaboration

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 cells."

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".

Editors notes

  1. 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.

  2. Stanford Rook Holdings plc is an AIM listed UK-based biopharmaceutical company.

  3. 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.

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