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Nov 12, 2012
 |  BioCentury  |  Emerging Company Profile

Targovax: Ras to the rescue

Norway's Targovax developing vaccine targeting mutant Ras for pancreatic cancer

Targovax A/S's peptide-based vaccine improved survival in an investigator-led Phase I/II trial in resected pancreatic cancer, and the company is planning its own Phase I/II trial this year. The vaccine works by going after mutant Ras, a protein found in several types of cancer but generally considered a marker of non-response to treatment instead of a therapeutic target.

Mutations in the Ras family of genes - K-Ras (KRAS), v-Ha-ras Harvey rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (HRAS) and neuroblastoma Ras viral (v-Ras) oncogene (NRAS) - are markers of resistance to standard therapies in colorectal cancer (CRC) and non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and are also found in up to 90% of pancreatic cancers.

Pancreatic tumors are not usually screened for Ras mutations because treatment options are few and patient prognosis is poor regardless of Ras status.

However, in several studies published in the 1990s, research teams led by Gustav Gaudernack at Norwegian Radium Hospital (now Oslo University Hospital), showed mutant KRAS peptides stimulated the development of antigen-specific...

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