The Body’s Unique Defence against Cancer

Immuno-oncology therapy means that the body’s own immune defence system is used to treat cancer. The immune system, among other cells, features T-cells that can be activated to find and destroy cancer cells.

A primary tumour rarely kills, but secondary tumours (metastases) do. Currently there is no therapy specifically designed to prevent early metastasis formation. And there is a clearly identified medical need in this area, which has been noted by both the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the American counterpart, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). RhoVac is developing the first ever antigen-based cancer therapy, RV001, that is designed specifically for eliminating metastatic cancer cells, irrespective of cancer type. This is envisioned to be used in order to prevent cancer recurrence and progression after primary tumour therapy.

RV001 – specifcally designed to prevent metastases
Metastatic cancer cells over-express a protein called RhoC. It is this protein that lends to the metastatic potential cancer cells their ability to migrate and infiltrate other tissue. RhoVac’s drug candidate, RV001, is an immuno-oncologic drug that is presented to the immune system as an antigen, stimulating T-cells to identify and destroy cells that carry this protein, i.e. metastatic or metastatic potential cells. Historically, so called “cancer vaccines” has shown inadequate efficacy in treating solid tumours, which have various mechanisms for evading and excluding the immune system. However, RV001 is not designed to deal with solid tumours; it targets only metastatic cancer cells and metastases in early formation. This makes a big difference in terms of the ability for the immune system to be effective. Today the treatments used for primary tumours, typically surgery or radiation therapy, are generally quite effective. However, there is a an unmet need for an effective treatment to prevent the recurrence of cancer after primary tumour therapy, a treatment that targets the metastatic potential cancer cells that might have already escaped the primary tumour, before it could be effectively treated, cells that therefore pose a latent threat of cancer recurrence.

This is how RV001 works

1. RV001 – a peptide antigen against RhoC – is administered to the patient through subcutaneous injection;

2. RV001 encounters dendritic cells – a type of white blood cell with regulatory functions in the immune system – that capture, absorb and process RV001, becoming antigen-presenting cells (APCs);

3. APCs interact with naïve T-cells converting them in target-specific killer cells (CD8+ T-cells). Additionally, helper cells (CD4+ T- cells) are formed whose function is to strengthen the immune system’s ability to fight disease;

4. A specific immune response is thus established against cells overexpressing RhoC – i.e. metastatic cancer cells. This response involves both killer cells – that attack metastatic cancer cells – and helper cells – that produce cytokines – strengthening the anticancer immune response.

RV001 – Scientific Concept