ObsERV identifies patient-specific virus targets, so-called ERVs (endogenous retroviruses), expressed in cancer.
Evaxion has demonstrated that overexpression of such ERVs is strongly associated with the overall survival of cancer patients, notably of patients that are normally considered unresponsive to immunotherapy. In addition, the company has preclinically demonstrated complete tumor eradication in animal models when targeting ERVs.
“I am thrilled to share this exciting discovery, which may unlock the treatment of a much larger group of cancer patients. 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,” says CEO Per Norlén.
ERVs are remnants of ancient viruses lying dormant in our genomes. ERVs are often overexpressed in cancers but not in healthy tissue, making them visible to the immune system and hence a promising target for immunotherapy. Evaxion’s AI platforms for decoding the immune system have been the key to allowing the identification of patient-specific ERVs.
“Our AI platforms are continuously getting more powerful through machine learning. This ongoing, iterative improvement and the cross-pollination between our platforms for infectious disease and cancer has been essential for developing the new AI platform ObsERV. And it 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,” Norlén concludes.
Photo of Per Norlén: Jenny Leyman