The immune system is extremely selective, being capable of detecting and attacking foreign molecules such as those on bacteria and viruses, while leaving normal cells unharmed. It also has the power to destroy large masses of tissue, as is the case during the rejection of a transplanted organ. It is this selectivity and potency that Onyvax is harnessing in its efforts to develop new therapies that deploy the immune system for the treatment of cancer.
Cancer has been difficult to tackle because it both evades and suppresses the immune system. However, advances in tumor cell biology and the application of genomics have identified differences between cancerous and normal cells. Cancer cells produce certain markers (antigens) which can be targeted for an immune attack. This has enabled the development of a new type of treatment called cancer vaccines that induce the immune system to attack cancer cells. Onyvax's Cell Vaccines are designed to elicit an immune attack on a broad range of targets associated with different types and stages of cancer.