Jennerex released intriguing interim phase II hepatocellular carcinoma data at European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) in April, and later at American Society of Cell and Gene Therapy (ASGCT) in May. With the data, Jennerex demonstrated a shift that oncolytic viruses can provide in cancers not treated satisfactory today.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a cancer of its own kind to develop treatments for: typically being secondary to a viral hepatisis B or C infection it is endemic – and thus a big problem – in many Asian countries, Japan and South-Korea, while orphan in the US and EU. It is also very deadly: the usual outcome is poor as only 10 – 20% of hepatocellular carcinomas can be removed completely using surgery. And if the cancer cannot be completely removed, the disease is often deadly within 3 to 6 months.
The gold standard drug treatment today is Nexavar® (sorafenib) – the first HCC drug therapy approved by EMEA. Jennerex intends to start the pivotal JX-594 (an oncolytic vaccinia virus with GMCSF) phase III trial later this year for first line therapy with JX-594 followed by Nexavar®.
Comparing efficacy results generated so far – at the same time knowing that such comparisons have their obvious pitfalls – Jennerex and oncolytic viruses present a strong promise for the future patients.