OvaCure Research 

 

Each of OvaCure’s projects is conducted by world-leading experts within the fields of immunotherapy, oncology and gynaecology and is guided by OvaCure’s Scientific and Clinical Advisory Board. 

Only ground-breaking projects are selected
In collaboration with the Anticancer Fund and the OvaCure Scientific and the Clinical Advisory Board, OvaCure has generated a project portfolio of two Danish and three international projects. Each project developed through OvaCure has maximum potential for curative treatments of ovarian cancer patients.

OvaCure's first five projects are currently underway, with the flagship project, T-cell Infusion, being among the world's first trials to treat ovarian cancer patients with adoptive T-cell therapy (ACT). OvaCure’s 2nd project, T-cell Combination, will be conducted under the same clinical trial protocol with modifications to further the investigation by combining ACT with IFNα and chemotherapy. These two projects are the result of the OvaCure Innovation Summit in 2014, and have inspired the development of two additional international projects in Lausanne, which aim to develop novel personalised vaccination programs for ovarian cancer patients. OvaCure's Innovation Summits and Collaboration Labs in 2016 have also initiated, co-created and developed two additional projects, Tumour-Match and CAR T-cell Projects.

 
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Initiated Projects

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T-cell Infusion Project (Denmark)

Original title: “Immunotherapy by adoptive T-cell infusion in the event of advanced ovarian cancer (stage III and IV) and treatment trials for a total of 18 women”.

The project is conducted at the Center for Cancer Immune Therapy (CCIT), Copenhagen University Hospital Herlev, Copenhagen, Denmark. Principal investigator: Head of OvaCure Immunotherapy Dream Collaboration, Professor Inge Marie Svane, MD, PhD. 

  • Ovarian cancer patients in this trial are among the first in the world to be treated with T-cells 
  • Centre for Cancer Immune Therapy in Copenhagen is a world leader in T-cell therapy
  • 55% success rate in melanoma with this method already Proven Project lead, Prof. Inge Marie Svane is a pioneer in Adoptive T-cell therapy

T-cell Combination Therapy Project (The Netherlands)

Original title: “Combined chemo and adoptive T-cell therapy (ACT) as treatment for recurrent epithelial ovarian carcinoma”.

This project is conducted at the Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands. Principal investigator: Assoc. Professor Els M. E. Verdegaal, PhD. 

  • Aims to provide a lower toxicity treatment regimen for ovarian cancer patients
  • Stands to improve T-cell function after re-infusion using chemotherapy and Interferon alpha
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Personal T-Cell Project (Switzerland)

Original title: “Harnessing tumour diversity to develop personalised adoptive immunotherapy for ovarian cancer”.

This pre-clinical project is conducted at the Ludwig Center for Cancer Research, University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Principal investigator: Professor George Coukos, MD, PhD. 

  • Harnessing the diversity and micro-environment of the patients’ tumour
  • Establishing robust pre-clinical methods for application in a clinical setting

Personal Vaccine Project (Switzerland)

Original title:  "A Phase I/II study to test the feasibility, safety and immunogenicity of personalised mutanome peptide (PMP) vaccine vs. whole tumour oxidized lysate (OC-L) vaccine admixed with CpG adjuvant, in combination with low-dose cyclophosphamide in primary advanced epithelial ovarian, primary peritoneal, or fallopian tube cancer".

This clinical project is conducted at the Ludwig Center for Cancer Research, University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Principal investigator: Professor Lana Kandalaft, MD, PhD. 

Making immunotherapy even more personal for ovarian cancer

  • Ovarian cancer patients will be administered with two different vaccines approaches
  • Project goal is to develop the best vaccine approach as a primary treatment for ovarian cancer
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Tumour-Match Project (Denmark)

Original title: ”Molecular profiling ovarian cancer patient subpopulations - beyond BRCA1/2”.

This project will be conducted at Nordic Society of Gyneacological Oncology at Rigshospitalet, Denmark. Principal investigator: Mirza, Mansoor Raza, MD, Chief Oncologist.

  • A retrospective study
  • Project identifies patients who respond to different combinations of cancer treatments and uses this to improve patient stratification 
  • Economic and health benefits of administering treatment that is matched to a patient’s tumour-profile


OvaCure Pipeline

CAR T-cell Therapy Project (USA)

Original title: State-of-the-art CAR-T technology applied to ovarian cancer patients for the first time with a novel target”.

This project will be conducted at the Perelman School of Medicine, the University of Pennsylvania, PA, USA. Principal investigator: Assoc. Professor Daniel Powell, MD

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The main difference between immunotherapy and traditional antineoplastic treatments

In contrast, immunotherapy activates the body’s own immune cells to kill the cancer cells. As a result, treatment with immunotherapy does not have the same harmful effects as chemo- and radiotherapy and is therefore much better tolerated by patients.

 

Traditional chemotherapy and radiotherapy works by directly killing or inhibiting the growth of the malignant cells. However, both chemotherapy and radiotherapy affects not only the malignant cells but also the healthy normal-functioning cells. This leads to the well-known toxic side-effects such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, muscle pain, hair loss and fatigue, which can impact the fragile cancer patients quite severely. 


What is Ovarian Cancer?

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Ovarian cancer is characterised by the presence of cancerous or malignant cells in the ovaries. These cells then form a tumor which can be identified based on their origin. There are 3 main types of ovarian cancer tumors:

Epithelial tumors: These tumors originate from cells which cover the outer surface of the ovary. Most ovarian tumors are epithelial cell tumors.

Germ cell tumors: These originate from the cells that produce the reproductive eggs or ova.

Stromal tumors: These originate from cells which provide the structural support for the ovaries and produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.

 

 

Symptoms
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often uncharacteristic, vague and/or slowly emerging. The symptoms may consist of the sensation of a pelvic or abdominal mass, pain in the pelvis or abdomen, an altered sensation or pattern of toilet habits or obstipation, nausea, vomiting, dyspnoea and/or fatigue.

Prevalence
There is an estimated 239,000 new cases worldwide each year. A total of 140.000 women worldwide die annually from ovarian cancer including more than 400 Danish, 1.700 Nordic and 45,000 European women.

 

Incidence
Denmark has one of the highest incidences of ovarian cancer in the world. The lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer being about 2% for Danish women compared to 1.4% - 1.8% in the United States (Reference: Role of CA125 in predicting ovarian cancer survival - a review of the epidemiological literature Digant Gupta and Christopher G Lis, Journal of Ovarian Cancer Research).

Diagnosis
When the patient is referred with symptoms suspected of ovarian cancer, a combined gynaecological and ultrasound examination is conducted. A cancer biomarker (CA125) is obtained from a blood sample. If patient's are suspected of having ovarian cancer, additional imaging modalities such as MRI, CT or PET/CT may be used prior to surgery or biopsy. The diagnosis can only be truly confirmed by histological examination from a biopsy or from removal of tumor masses. So far, there is no method for screening for ovarian cancer.

Survival
Survival of ovarian cancer is highly correlated to the stage of disease at the time of diagnosis. In Denmark, the 5-year overall survival for women with ovarian cancer in stage I, II, III and IV are 83%, 62%, 23% and 14% respectively. Unfortunately, the vast majority of women are diagnosed in stage III and IV.