The Altevax technology

All vaccines use antigens, which are the targets of the immune responses in the body. Antigens range from low specificity (encompassing a wide range of molecules – for example whole organisms, viruses, cell fragments, etc.) to high specificity (e.g., a peptide, which is a short sequence of amino acids). The lower the specificity of the antigen, the more toxic it might be, as it includes lots of other molecules that can be potentially harmful. Therefore, the current trend in cancer vaccines is to focus on high specificity antigens. Unfortunately, these antigens are often poorly immunogenic (not very strong immune response), and thus need a support to be able to be absorbed by the immune cells and trigger an immune response. This critical support, which acts as a catalyst boosting the immune response, is called an “adjuvant”. Without an adjuvant, a high specificity, low toxicity antigen cannot trigger a strong immune response.

Altevax is develloping a new class of nanoparticle adjuvants that trigger a strong immune system response against a given tumour target (a specific antigen), significantly boosting their effectiveness. This technology activates the Cytotoxic T Cells (also called CD8 lymphocytes or CTLs), which are much more effective than antibodies and constitute the most effective immune barrier against cancer.

Altevax’s adjuvant mechanism of action allows the creation of a family of adjuvant products that can boost the effectiveness of a variety of antigens. This family of adjuvants also allows synergic combinations with the recently discovered immune checkpoint inhibitors.

ALT-Mx, Altevax’s lead adjuvant, has completed proof-of concept, showing a dramatic efficiency, significantly superior to the current benchmark in cancer vaccines.

The graph below shows that, after vaccination with the Altevax-made product, not only tumour growth stalled, but also that 25% of the mice were completely cured. This is a radical improvement relative to other adjuvants, which, when combined with the same antigens, resulted in only moderate reductions in the tumour volume.
Ref: Carpentier et al. “Synthetic melanin bound to subunit vaccine antigens significantly enhances CD8+ T-cell responses” PLoS One 2017;12:e0181403.


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