Valo Therapeutics (Valo Tx) is developing a novel form of cancer therapy that combines two clinically proven cancer immunotherapy concepts: peptide vaccination and oncolytic virus-based immunotherapy. The therapy ensures the activation of the human immune system to seek and destroy cancer cells throughout the body.
The technology, called PeptiCRAd (Peptide-coated Conditionally Replicating Adenovirus), is based on using immunogenic oncolytic viruses as active carriers of tumour-specific peptides. This enables the immune system to be directed to specifically target and kill cancer cells.
Lasting immunity to a specific cancer target
Valo TX is building on an existing and FDA-approved approach for the use of oncolytic viruses. The company has developed a proprietary, genetically modified adenovirus that will form the basis of its therapeutic approach. PeptiCRAd is expected to provide lasting immunity to the specific cancer target, which can be quickly adapted to tackle new forms of cancer cells that might emerge over time.
Valo Tx’s methodology is to adsorb tumour-specific peptides to the surface of the oncolytic virus capsid. The tumour peptides are extended using a poly-lysine tail to increase their net charge. The positively charged peptides bind naturally to the negatively charged adenovirus virus capsid via electrostatic interactions.
Change the peptide – quickly change the target
As opposed to genetically engineered changes to the virus platform, PeptiCRAd technology facilitates the rapid creation of a diverse range of immunotherapies, addressing the critical need for tumour-specific and even personalised therapies. By simply changing the peptide used to coat the surface of the virus, PeptiCRAd can be rapidly redirected to target a diverse range of cancer types.
Valo Tx is aiming at initiating its first clinical study in the early 2019 in three cancer indications: malignant melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer and triple-negative breast cancer. The target is to commercialise the first PeptiCRAd product around 2024, in one or several cancer indications.
To date, Valo Tx has raised a total of €7.1m seed round funding. Valo Tx is now seeking qualified investors to help it realize its vision, by taking its novel approach and world class immunotherapy know-how from the preclinical stage into the clinic, developing cancer specific virotherapies that have the potential to treat millions of cancer patients worldwide. The overall market potential of PeptiCRAd is tens of billions USD.
The original PeptiCRAd innovation was developed by Associate Professor Vincenzo Cerullo and his research group in the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Helsinki. Valo Tx is a spin-out company of the University of Helsinki. Its team of oncolytic virus and immunotherapy experts, together with the founding scientist, have the necessary expertise to take this patented technology through clinical development and make it available to patients.