Flush With Cash, Istari Expands Revolutionary Treatment Trial Using Polio Vaccine
A Duke University spinout is expanding its trial of an immune-boosting technology that uses variations of the polio vaccine to treat patients with cancer.
Months after a massive $43.4 million raise, Istari Oncology, a clinical-stage biotech company headquartered in Durham, has expanded its LUMINOS-103 trial. It includes a new sub-study that evaluates the use of its primary tech platform, Polio Virus Sabin-Rhinovirus Poliovirus (PVSRIPO), in multiple tumor types of head and neck cancer.
The company began the trial earlier this year in two separate cohorts in patients with bladder cancer.
PVSRIPO is derived from the type 1 polio vaccine, and the company said it has the potential to treat a variety of solid tumors previously thought to be untreatable.
“We enter this next phase of PVSRIPO development in patients with solid tumors with great enthusiasm as we progress toward further evaluating the impact of PVSRIPO on patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma,” said Matt Stober, Istari’s president and chief executive officer.
“With patient recruitment underway for our LUMINOS-103 bladder cancer cohorts, and the expectation that future cohorts focusing on other solid tumors will be added in the near future, we are proud to broaden the PVSRIPO clinical development program.”
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HSNCC) is expected to impact more than 66,000 people in the United States in 2021 alone – approximately 49,000 men and 18,000 women.
“As we continue to focus on advancing prevention, detection, treatment, and rehabilitation of people with head and neck cancer, we will be closely watching the progress of Istari’s head and neck sub-study with great anticipation and optimism,” said Amanda Hollinger, MPA, executive director, Head & Neck Cancer Alliance.
In April, Istari, founded in 2014, raised $43.4 million from 17 investors. It came on the heels of receiving clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its investigational immunotherapy.
Results from multiple trials and preclinical research streams indicate that PVSRIPO has the potential to treat just about every solid tumor.
Once injected, the company said it activates a patient’s adaptive and innate immune system to attack the cancer.
“If a tumor can be biopsied, it can be injected,” W. Garrett Nichols, M.D., MS, chief medical officer at Istari Oncology, has told WRAL TechWire. “And if it can be injected, it can elicit an antitumor immune response that has the potential to control or eliminate the tumor.”
The “basket trial” is expected to add cohorts in the coming months, a company spokesperson said.