What if we could engineer “killer cells” to wage war on tumors, and then program the little soldiers to seek a specific kill zone? What if glowing tumors could tell doctors which tissue material to remove during surgery?
These are just two of the recent breakthroughs in cancer research being undertaken by the hundreds of local bio- tech firms that are pumping money and resources into the oncology market — a market that’s booming with players, inno- vations and a demand that just won’t quit.
San Diego-based Batu Biologics Inc., is taking a more inventive approach. Batu’s new cancer vaccine, ValloVax™, is designed to target and kill blood vessels that feed tumor growth. In doing so, Batu expects white blood cells to invade the tumor site and encourage immune-based remission. Without being able to form new blood vessels, a tumor cannot grow bigger than 1 millimeter, said 22-year-old CEO Samuel Wagner.
Wagner said the company is set to file an investigational new drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Admin- istration in the first quarter of 2015, and hopes to begin clinical trials after approval. Batu recently signed a license agreement with the Regents of the University of California granting Batu exclusive rights to develop and commercialize their HMGB-1 derived vaccine platform, a technology that can be used in conjunction with ValloVax™ to “supercharge” the potency of the immune response.