Activated Cell Therapy Inc., a privately held company, said it raised$14.5 million in a second round of financing in four years andexpects to launch this year the first clinical studies of its vaccineapproach to treating cancers.

Richard Bastiani, president of the Mountain View, Calif., company,said Activated Cell Therapy has raised a total of $24.5 million sinceits founding in 1992. The latest financing was led by HealthCareInvestment Corp., of Edison, N.J.; Sanderling Ventures, of MenloPark, Calif.; Shaw, Glasgow & Co. LLC, of Portland, Oregon; RhoManagement Group, of New York; and Vulcan Northwest, ofBellevue, Wash.

Bastiani said HealthCare Investment Corp. is the largest shareholderin Activated Cell Therapy. The company's cell separation andactivation technology was licensed from Stanford University Schoolof Medicine, of Palo Alto, Calif., and is based on the work ofprofessors Edgar Engleman and Samuel Strober.

Activated Cell Therapy's initial trials will target multiple myelomaand prostate cancer.

The technology involves using dendritic cells, which are componentsof white blood cells, to stimulate an attack against the cancer by thepatients own cytotoxic T cells.

Bastiani said the therapeutic vaccine is made by removing dendriticcells from the patient, incubating them with a cancer antigen andreinfusing them so the now "educated" dendritic cells can rally Tlymphocytes to kill the tumor cells.

A function of dendritic cells is to present a disease antigen to killer Tcells to send them into action. Bastiani said researchers still arestudying why dendritic cells of cancer patients do not naturally rallythe body's immune system against the disease.

It may be something as simple as the cancer antigen and dendritic cellnever making contact in the body, he said. However, he added, paststudies show when the antigen and dendritic cells are broughttogether ex vivo they do their job.

In making the cancer vaccines, a patient's own dendritic cells areused. For treating multiple myeloma, the cancer antigen also is takenfrom the patient, but for prostate cancer an antigen specific to allprostate cancers is employed. The vaccines take about two days toprepare.

Activated Cell Therapy's technology, using dendritic cells, has beenstudied at Stanford with B cell lymphoma patients. Of the fourparticipants in the trial, two experienced complete tumor regression.(See BioWorld Today, Jan. 11, 1996, p. 1.) n

-- Charles Craig

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.