New drug could improve the post-operative treatment of ovarian cancer

Scientists in Saxony are hoping to develop a non-toxic cancer-fighting treatment that could revolutionise the treatment of ovarian cancer.

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Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute are working on a non-toxic cancer-fighting treatment. Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute are working on a non-toxic cancer-fighting treatment.

The potentially ground-breaking research into the clinical development of the active ingredient CVac is being carried in Leipzig at the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology in partnership with the biotechnology company Prima BioMed.

The hope is to develop a new cell therapy to fight ovarian carcinoma in women.  The new drug will, it is planned, be used following the surgical removal of a tumour and the usual follow-up treatments of radiation therapy and chemotherapy.  The project partners are investigating the development of a non-toxic cancer-fighting cell treatment.  Under this process, the body’s own cells within the immune system would be induced to recognise and eliminate cancer cells.  If the research is successful, it could significantly increase the quality of life and life expectancy of ovarian cancer patients.

The three-year research project, which got underway in 2011 and will continue until 2013, has led to the creation of seven new staff jobs at the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology.  The institute has been carrying out medical, life sciences and engineering research in Leipzig since 2005.  The other project partner, Prima BioMed GmbH, was founded in 2010 in Leipzig and is part of the international biotechnology company Prima BioMed Ltd, which is headquartered in Australia.

In addition to the potential clinical benefits, a further aim of the research project is to bolster the reputation of Saxony as a worldwide centre of excellence in biomedical research.

Project manager Gerno Schmiedeknecht commented: “Nearly all patients with the present standard therapy (surgery plus radiation and chemotherapy) are facing a rapid recurrence of the tumour, and that’s what we want to prevent or at least to delay to offer our patients a longer survival with good quality of life.”

Total and EU funding

The “New cell treatment against cancer – Fraunhofer IZI and Prima BioMed carry out combined research into a special active ingredient” project has a total budget of EUR 4 000 000, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 3 000 000 through the Operational Programme for Saxony in the 2007 to 2013 programming period.  The national contribution to the project was EUR 1 000 000.

Draft date