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Phylogica on verge of peptide vaccine breakthrough

ASX listed biotech Phylogica is on the verge of hitting a major milestone in the development of its biological “peptide” vaccine that is able to provoke an amplified immune response against diseased tissue including viruses and cancer.

The Perth-based company has been rapidly developing its vaccine based on cell penetrating peptides, or “CPP”s, that it sees as a basis for a future world-leading class of drugs that can be delivered intracellularly to address targets that would otherwise be “undruggable”.

Phylogica CPPs deliver an antigen that is associated with the diseased cells directly inside immune cells, triggering an amplified immune response targeted at the diseased cells.

Once commercialised, Phylogica is confident that the unique drug delivery platform could save the lives of tens of millions of people suffering from cancer and other serious and potentially lethal illnesses

On Thursday, Phylogica CEO Rohan Hockings said: “The main driver of valuation uplift for the company’s platform technology was within reach and results would be known by mid-2019 (via “in vivo therapeutic read-outs")”.

“The early indications of our prospects of success in these read-outs are encouraging,” Dr Hockings said in an operational update and letter to shareholders.

“Screening of our enriched peptide libraries has identified multiple potent ‘second generation’ CPP candidates and translation of the performance of these CPPs from the test tube into animals will set us on the path to the clinic. “

He was confident the next 12 months would see the technology proven to be safe and effective in animals, paving the way for progression to clinical human trials.

Dr Hockings said he had been particularly encouraged by recent in vitro performance of the company’s ‘second generation’ CPPs which included candidates capable of delivering 25-150 times as much cargo into a target cell when compared to the cargo alone.

Recently announced results from the company’s evaluation of its peptide vaccine in an animal model of Herpes Simplex Virus provide further encouragement for its prospects in these critical upcoming studies, he said.

Seventy five per cent of the mice treated with a vaccination consisting of the company’s CPPs back in December that were joined to a common antigen from the Herpes Simplex Virus, demonstrated no detectable signs of HSV.

According to management, the company’s peptide vaccine was the top performing treatment group across all the experimental groups, which included one group treated with the “gold standard” competitor treatment known as CPP TAT.

“Those results demonstrate a clear correlation between the performance of the CPP in the test tube and the outcomes of the animal model,” Dr Hockings said on Thursday.

“Given the extent of the outperformance of our second generation CPPs in vitro, this bodes well for our imminent therapeutic in vivo read-outs.”

Dr Hockings said the in-vitro read outs from its second generation CPPs would be delivered across the three cargo classes and highlighted for prioritisation in its annual report.

He also noted that 2019 would see the company pursue partnerships with global commercial and academic groups to advance alternative cargo classes, allowing it to progress work in three extra classes of cargo through to “proof-of-concept” milestones.

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