Investigators reported that Biomira Inc.'s Theratope vaccine resultedin an apparent survival advantage for those who developed thestrongest antibody response against the cancer vaccine.

Data were reported Wednesday and Friday in Paris at the SixthInternational Congress on Anti-Cancer Treatment. The vaccine isbeing studied in a Phase II trial of patients with ovarian, breast andcolon cancers.

Theratope, a synthetic carbohydrate vaccine, caused antibodyresponses in all the patients, Alex McPherson, Biomira's presidentand CEO, told BioWorld Today. Those who responded more than themedian response level were compared to those who were at or belowthe median response level.

The key, then, is to get the strongest vaccine-induced antibodyresponses in all patients.

McPherson said formulations being tested in animal models showthat a higher ratio of the synthetic antigen STn per molecule ofcarrier (KLH) leads to a "substantially improved and increasedantibody response." The mechanism for developing the optimizedproduct is within the standard operating procedure, meaning takingthe better formulation into studies wouldn't be that difficult, he said.

"Based on this data showing there is a statistically significantcorrelation between antibody response and apparent extendedsurvival, we feel we have a potential product to take into Phase IIIstudies," said Jane Jack, Biomira's coordinator of investor relations.

Jack said Biomira is talking to various contract researchorganizations about Phase III trial designs that would attract patientsquickly. She said discussions already have begun with potentialcorporate partners to help move the vaccine forward.

Biomira's stock gained 13 percent, or 50 cents, Friday to close at$4.38 per share. n

-- Jim Shrine

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