Vaccination is a well-established method for the prevention of diseases and has proven to be particularly effective as a prophylactic treatment against many viruses and to prevent virally-induced cervical cancer. However, the development of cancer vaccines to treat established cancers has been more challenging. The main goal is to increase the activity of the immune response against tumour cells, and this requires the induction of high-avidity, cytotoxic T cells. Scancell has developed two complementary vaccine platform technologies to address these issues: Moditope® and ImmunoBody®. In addition, Scancell has used its proven ImmunoBody® vaccine concept to design a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Scancell’s Moditope® platform is a completely novel concept based on stress-induced post translational modifications (siPTMs). The technology exploits and harnesses the normal immune response that utilises cytotoxic CD4 T cells to eradicate stressed cells. Tumour cells are, by nature, stressed due to their rapid growth and lack of oxygen and nutrients. By identifying these stress-induced modifications, Scancell has been able to design modified peptide vaccines which induce potent T cells that seek and destroy tumour cells.

The Company’s ImmunoBody® platform is designed to induce potent cytotoxic CD8 T cell responses against multiple epitopes via a unique dual-mechanism of action to stimulate a broad anti-tumour effect. They are DNA vaccines that encode a protein in the form of a modified antibody, which is engineered to express epitopes from a cancer antigen whilst retaining the ability to target activated antigen presenting cells in vivo. The potent immune responses induced by ImmunoBody® vaccines have been shown to result in long term survival in melanoma patients treated with Scancell’s first ImmunoBody® vaccine, SCIB1.

Scancell is also using its proven cancer vaccine concept to design a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. We have designed a DNA vaccine to stimulate high avidity T cells and give durable responses, ultimately leading to better protection. In addition to the receptor binding domain of the spike protein, Scancell’s vaccine also targets the nucleoprotein, which is highly conserved amongst coronaviruses. This vaccine may therefore also confer protection against new emerging coronaviruses that may evolve in the future.