Immunotherapy in cancer treatment is one of the hottest topics in medicine today, and Norway is leading the way on the international arena. A new technology is now being launched that allows the patient’s «barcode» to be revealed. Since cancer cells mutate rapidly and hide from the immune system, there is a need to expose the cancer in all its mutated forms to help the immune system to recognize these cancer cells and be activated to fight these cancer cells. This “barcode” technology, combined with available immunotherapy, holds the promise to allow greater precision to treat the entire cancer, with all the mutations, individually in each patient..

A significant challenge in today’s immunotherapy is that cancer cells constantly mutate and spread. A vaccine developed to treat specific  cancer cell abnormalities may act against part of  cancer cells expressing specific abnormalities, but not necessarily against  all cancer cells in the same tumor expressing other abnormalities, and the cancer escapes and continues to grow. This is because tumors are heterogeneous, meaning they consist of different cancer cells with different mutations.

Lytix Biopharma AS

Lytix, a Norwegian biotech company, is now launching a technology that makes it possible to uncover cancer cells and their mutations in a completely new way.

“The company has developed a peptide that once injected into the tumor strips the cancer cells from their membranes,  reveals the cancer cell abnormalities in all its mutated forms to be exposed  to the patient’s own immune system,” says Øystein Rekdal, co-founder and Head of Research and Development at Lytix

Every patient unique

“Cancer treatment must to a large extent be tailored to each individual. It is difficult to develop a general vaccine against cancer due to cancer heterogeneity.”

“The reason is that the cancer mutates all the time and varies from tumor to tumor, and from patient to patient, which makes it impossible to create a one-size-fits-all drug to cure cancer as every patient is unique , “continues Rekdal.

The patients «barcode»

“This is where the Lytix LTX-315 peptide can make a significant difference. We believe we have a powerful technology that is capable of exposing  cancer cells with all their unique mutations  to the immune system in a completely new way as compared  to today’s solutions.”

“Our method dismantles cancer cells and reveals  the patient’s “barcode”, meaning the patient’s own unique cancer cell abnormalities in all its mutated forms, to the patient’s own immune system“ continues Rekdal. “In fact, we use the patient’s own tumor as its own vaccine”, summarizes Rekdal.

– When the immune system catches these cancer cells with all its mutations, the body’s T cells (killer cells “trained” to recognize the cancer cells) will then direct their attack against these cancer cells.

A «hot» cancer is essential

“Within cancer vaccines, and other forms of immunotherapy, it is known that a better response is obtained if the cancer is infiltrated by specific immune cells (the T cells). This means that the presence of T cells is important in order to create an effective immune response to the cancer cells. Cancers infiltrated by T cells are called “hot” signaling that the immune system is turned on and active.

“What we have seen in the clinic is that we can make the patients’ cancer tumors “hot” by measuring an increase in T cells in the tumor after treatment with our peptide LTX-315,” says  Øystein Rekdal.

Synergy with other therapies

For the majority of cancer patients, the reason immunotherapy treatment being ineffective is that these tumors are cold. Combining the Lytix drug  LTX-315 with other immunotherapy treatments holds a strong rationale to  improve clinical efficacy.

– The reason is that the cold cancers treated with LTX-315 are turned “hot” and thus more susceptible to immunotherapy.

– In addition, LTX-315 will reveal cancer cells and all their mutations making them more broadly susceptible to treatment with immunotherapy.

Synergy of combinations has been proven in animal models and is now being tested in patients.

“In practice, this means that combining our molecule with other therapies should lead to a greater effect in the treatment of several differerent types of cancer,” concludes Øystein Rekdal to MedXplore.