Taipei hospital completes technology transfer for cancer drug

06/06/2019 06:25 PM
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Taipei Veterans General Hospital doctor Lan Keng-li
Taipei Veterans General Hospital doctor Lan Keng-li

Taipei, June 6 (CNA) Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Thursday made a technology transfer of a therapeutic cancer vaccine it developed for the treatment of a wide variety of tumor types to a medical technology company.

Clinical trials of the vaccine could start in three years at the earliest and its price is expected to be much cheaper than many existing immunotherapies and cell therapies, according to Lan Keng-li (藍耿立), a doctor from the hospital who worked with a research team in the development of the vaccine.

Describing immunotherapy as a promising innovative treatment for many forms of cancer, Lan noted that James Allison of the United States and Tasuku Honjo of Japan won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for research that took them several decades and has revolutionized the treatment of cancer.

The pair were honored "for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation," according to the Nobel Prize Committee.

Encouraged by the results of studies aimed at fighting cancerous tumors, Lan said that he began his research in the field of immunotherapies when he pursued his PhD in the U.S. more than 10 years ago, culminating in the successful development of the therapeutic cancer vaccine.

In testing on animals, the vaccine has been proven to be effective in curbing the growth of melanoma cells, liver cancer, colorectal carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma, according to Lan.

So far, it has dramatically slowed the growth of cancer cells in mice and rats, Lan added.

The vaccine, used in combination with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, will be more effective than the individual therapies, he said.

Lan added that after he invented the drug in 2012, he applied for pharmaceutical patents in Taiwan, the U.S. and China.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan and Evelyn Kao)

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