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Evaxion Biotech Announce New Source of Immunotherapeutic Targets via AI Platform

ERVs have been strongly associated with overall survival in cancer patients. Evaxion hopes they can act as therapeutic targets for non-responsive immunotherapy patients.

Danish clinical biotech Evaxion has announced that it has developed a new AI platform which seeks to identify a new source of targets for personalised immunotherapy.

The targets in question are called ERVs (endogenous retroviruses) which are often overexpressed on tumours and not expressed on regular healthy tissue – making them a desirable target for immunotherapy.

Overexpression of ERVs has been demonstrated by the company to be associated with overall survival of cancer patients, even in patients who have been considered unresponsive to immunotherapy. Evaxion hopes that this will be a critical step towards providing treatments for patients for whom immunotherapy has not worked.

The company’s AI tool, ObsERV, identifies patient-specific ERVs expressed on tumours, which allows them to be used as drug-targets for immunotherapy. Evaxion have said that animal models have shown “complete tumour eradication” when ERVs are targeted.

“[ObsERV] opens up a new treatment paradigm in cancer. Next step will be to turn this discovery into an AI-based drug development program that we intend to bring towards the clinic and to patients,” said Evaxion CEO, Per Norlén.

ERVs are dormant viral elements of our genome that have been buried under millions of years of evolution.

“I am thrilled to share this exciting discovery, which may unlock the treatment of a much larger group of cancer patients,” announced Norlén.

He added: “While there are efforts to develop cancer vaccines against ERVs that are shared between small groups of patients, we believe that we are the first in the world to use ERVs as targets for personalized cancer immunotherapy, broadening the scope tremendously.”

Oxford Global was proud to host Christian Garde, Director of Bioinformatics at Evaxion, who presented this data at his Immuno 2023 talk, ‘Endogenous Viral Elements Constitute A Complementary Source Of Antigens For Personalized Cancer Immunotherapy.’

See the upcoming events in Oxford Global’s Immuno series here.

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