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Novel method for treating ovarian cancer.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI supports the Australian company Prima BioMed Ltd. in tests and approvals regarding a novel therapeutic method for treating ovarian cancer.

Prima BioMed Ltd. is developing an autologous (the body's own) immune therapy for the treatment of epithelial ovarian carcinoma (ovarian cancer). Before the socalled CVac therapy can obtain approval and be used for treating patients, its safety and efficacy must be proved in a clinical study. According to Prima BioMed Ltd., first results of previous studies are highly promising.

Together with the Fraunhofer IZI the Australian company intends to conduct the clinical trial and to obtain approval for the novel therapy. In this context the Fraunhofer IZI is particularly responsible for the manufacture of investigational medicinal products and the conduct of quality controls for the European arm of the study. This joint project is funded with 4.1 million Euros by the Development Bank of Saxony (Sächsische Aufbaubank). On August 8, 2011, Saxonian State Minister Prof. Dr. Dr. Sabine von Schorlemer personally presented the funding grant, thus emphasizing the significance of such innovative projects for the Free State of Saxony.

In order to introduce the therapy to the European market as soon as possible, the Australian company has founded a German subsidiary based in Leipzig. Matthew Lehman, managing director of the Prima BioMed GmbH, is enthusiastic about the location of Leipzig. "The comprehensive support for Prima BioMed and our CVac program by the Free State of Saxony is overwhelming. With the Fraunhofer IZI, this region offers an advanced research infrastructure combined with excellent funding options through the Development Bank of Saxony, advantageous biologistics provided by the airport Leipzig-Halle and an outstanding research and development landscape. We are glad to be able to control our activities in Europe from Leipzig and are looking forward to a long-term commitment in this region".

Dr. Gerno Schmiedeknecht, Head of the Department of Cell Engineer-ing at the Fraunhofer IZI, is glad about the cooperation. "We are proud to support Prima BioMed in the development of the CVacTM technol-ogy. It is our common goal to provide this promising therapy as soon as possible to as many patients as possible".

The autologous immune therapy CVacTM is based on the modification of the body's own immune cells. Tumor cells are capable of evading the immune defense in various ways. The CVacTM method modifies the patient's specialized immune cells so as to make them recognize the tumor cells and activate diverse defense mechanisms of the immune system. These so-called dendritic cells are targeted to recognize a spe-cific protein (biomarker) that is present exclusively on the tumor cells. The immune system is thus capable of specifically attacking the tumor cells without affecting healthy cells. This form of treatment is therefore much gentler for the patient than irradiation and chemotherapies and also holds the promise of lower relapse rates.

idw :: 09.08.2011