31.10.2023, Author: André Will-Laudien

Share news: Defence Therapeutics - Amazing Discoveries — Is AccuTOX® the silver bullet in cancer treatment?

  • mRNA
  • Biotechnology
  • cancer research

Fighting cancer poses major challenges for today's biotechnology. Canadian company Defence Therapeutics (DTC) has been showing great innovation and breaking new ground in recent years with its ACCUM® platform technology. Efforts are directed towards therapies in the fight against globally prevalent cancers such as lung cancer, breast cancer, and pancreatic cancer. With numerous patents and a new delivery technology, the Canadians are succeeding one hopeful step at a time. The global market for cancer therapies is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 8.4% from 2022 to 2030. Defence Therapeutics might already have a "silver bullet" in its barrel. However, various clinical phases still need to prove the encouraging results from animal trials in humans.

With the patented ACCUM® platform, the Canadians have developed a flexible technology that holds great promise in current cancer research because the combination of mRNA technology with the modern method of delivery to affected cells is a real advance within recent research. Defence Therapeutics relies on the body's own immune system responses to defend against malignant intruders. The Company aims to advance three Phase 1 trials in 2024, all of which are based directly or indirectly on the patented ACCUM® technology.

Dr. Moutih Rafei, VP R&D

"ACCUM® technology is a proprietary and US patented platform that has been proven to enhance intracellular drug delivery."

An ARM vaccine against various forms of cancer has already achieved 100% efficacy in mice and is considered revolutionary because of its structure. A protein-based vaccine against cervical cancer could have both prophylactic and therapeutic benefits. The chemotherapeutic AccuTOX®, a potentised form of ACCUM®, has already convinced the renowned research hospital City of Hope in the greater Los Angeles area. The first Phase I trials will be conducted there from 2024.

The market for mRNA vaccines is only at the beginning of its development

With the help of an mRNA vaccine, the body is tricked into simulating an infection, prompting the immune system to generate its own defence antibodies. The global market for mRNA vaccines and therapeutics is valued at EUR 33.1 billion in 2022. It is expected to reach an anticipated EUR 53.4 billion by 2031, representing an average annual growth rate of 13.3%. Pandemics such as the recent COVID-19 could significantly increase investment in this area. For instance, German vaccine specialist BioNTech is now sitting on cash reserves of over EUR 17 billion after its stellar performance in 2021 and 2022. It is quite conceivable that cash-flow-rich companies will get on board with innovative partners like Defence Therapeutics to advance research in this field.

Defence has made good progress in recent months. Experiments show that the AccuTOX® molecule can destroy cancer cells through various mechanisms, including triggering immunogenic cell death or causing endoplasmic reticulum stress. Sometimes, it even succeeds in directly damaging the DNA of a cancer cell, making its proliferation impossible. In tests using three different animal models for solid tumors (lymphoma, melanoma and breast cancer), the drug controlled tumor growth and acted synergistically with several commercially used immune checkpoints (anti-PD-1, anti-CTLA4 and anti-CD47).

Diagram showing ACCUM® technology. Source: Defence Therapeutics, Investor Deck Q2-2023

A completed preclinical study using Defence's intranasal formulation of AccuTOX® in animals with established lung cancer demonstrated that the administration of AccuTOX® as a combination therapy with the immune checkpoint inhibitor anti-PD-1 dramatically reduced the extent of lung nodules compared to control animals that were either untreated or treated with anti-PD-1 alone. This 50% reduction in cancer nodules in animals with pre-existing lung tumors was achieved with a treatment plan of only 6 doses administered over 2 weeks using the AccuTOX® anti-PD-1 combination. These findings confirm that AccuTOX® is suitable for any solid tumor and can synergize with a variety of immune checkpoint inhibitors, making it a future treatment of choice in immuno-oncology. Now, it is on to preparing for the Phase I clinical trial of AccuTOX® as an anti-cancer molecule at City of Hope National Medical Center. Significant progress is expected in 2024.

Is this the "silver bullet" in cancer therapy?

Defence has also recently shown that AccuTOX® encapsulated with chitosan nanoparticles induces complete tumor regression in animals with pre-existing solid lymphoma. This additional discovery of AccuTOX® represents a simpler and more cost-effective method compared to the use of antibodies. It could be a key component of Defence's future encapsulation strategies, revolutionizing the future of molecular medicine by increasing the drug's specificity for the tumor site while minimizing the required dosage and associated side effects.

A new feature has now been discovered for the injectable cancer drug AccuTOX® in the context of cell-based cancer vaccine development. Defence has found that the administration of unconjugated ACCUM® exhibits strong and potent anti-cancer properties. This observation led to the development of the AccuTOX® variant, which is able to stop the growth of already established lymphomas, melanomas and cervical cancer when co-administered with various immune checkpoint inhibitors.** AccuTOX® not only destroys cancer tumor cells from within but can also trigger an immune response that protects the host from tumor recurrence.

The antigen cross-presentation

Surprisingly, transcriptomic analysis of tumor cells treated with AccuTOX® has brought to light yet another therapeutic and beneficial effect: antigen cross-presentation. This process is very important in the context of cancer immunotherapy, as it will lead to the future development of cell-based cancer vaccines capable of activating CD8 T cells, which in turn can trigger cancer destruction. The Defence team recently completed an in vitro study that vividly demonstrates how low concentrations of AccuTOX® can reprogram mesenchymal stromal cells to behave like antigen-presenting cells, similar to the leading ARM vaccine. After validation, Defence can proceed with an optimised second generation of its ARM vaccine.

CEO Sebastien Plouffe is convinced that Defence Therapeutics already holds a "silver bullet" against cancer. Source: Defence Therapeutics

"This latest observation is indeed exciting and groundbreaking as it demonstrates how a single compound, AccuTOX®, can be used as an injectable anti-cancer agent at a specific concentration on one target and as an agent capable of developing a cell-based vaccine when used at lower concentrations for other indications," added CEO Sebastien Plouffe.

DTC stock significantly outperforms the market

While the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index has lagged the market by 8.5% over the past 12 months, DTC shares have gained 51%. With a market capitalization of CAD 132 million, DTC has now reached a level where institutional investors are taking notice.

The DTC share is at the end of a consolidation phase and shows rising volume. Over the past 12 months, it has delivered a performance increase of 51%. Source: Refinitiv Eikon of 27.10.2023

Conclusion: The year 2024 is shaping up to be extremely exciting as the extensive pipeline enters the first Phase 1 trials, which will be conducted at the City of Hope National Medical Center. If ACCUM® and the AccuTOX® variant deliver on the promise indicated in the preliminary trials, Defence Therapeutics could emerge as a top pick in the North American cancer research sector. The stock has gone through a several-month consolidation phase during extensive research and is now showing signs of momentum buying in recent days. From a technical chart perspective, the increase in trading volume, coupled with rising quotations, is convincing. The phase of favorable valuation could soon be a thing of the past.

The update is based on the initial ( text: report 11/2021)

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