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TapImmune teams up with pharma giant

Pharmaceutical giant Astra Zeneca is intrigued by the technology of a company with Mayo Clinic ties that uses immune therapy to attack cancer.

Astra Zeneca is holding a phase 2 trial in conjunction with TapImmune, a clinical-stage company developing immunotherapeutics and vaccines for the treatment of cancer based on technology developed at Mayo Clinic, according to a press release from the companies.

The trial will use TapImmune's cancer vaccine, TPIV 200, in combination with Astra Zeneca durvalumab in patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer, the release says.

The study will start in the second quarter of 2016 at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York and will be led by Dr. Jason Konner as principal investigator.

TapImmune recently obtained Orphan Drug Designation for TPIV 200 in ovarian cancer from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The trial will include 40 women with high-grade ovarian, tubal, or primary peritoneal carcinomas, who have progressed within 6 months of their most recent platinum chemotherapy. The primary objective of the study is to determine the effectiveness of the combination.

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"This collaboration is a significant event for TapImmune," stated Dr. Glynn Wilson, chairman and CEO of TapImmune. "We are delighted to bring a leading T-cell vaccine platform into this combination study and to work with AstraZeneca/Medimmune and Sloan Kettering in a patient population that is in dire need of an effective treatment."

PIV 200 is a multi-epitope peptide vaccine. In Phase I clinical studies conducted at the Mayo Clinic in patients with breast and ovarian cancer, this vaccine was shown to be safe and well tolerated and to give robust cellular immune responses in 20 out of 21 evaluable patients.

Seattle-based TapImmune has signed a license agreement with Mayo Clinic to use its technology in a possible vaccine for certain types of cancer. The technology was developed in the laboratory of Keith Knutson at Mayo.

Wilson has said the company's future clinical programs will be "aimed at developing this leading vaccine candidate as a stand-alone therapy or in combination with other immunotherapies."

Mayo Clinic has a financial interest in the technology.

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