Jenner Technologies, a new California company organized todevelop vaccines against residual cancer, said it has raised $1.7million in a Regulation D financing.
The company is based on patent applications filed by itsfounder, president and chief scientific officer, Lynn Spitler, animmunologist and internist who was among the founders ofXoma Corp. of Berkeley, Calif. She filed two patent applicationson components of the vaccine approach, and assigned theapplications to Jenner.
The new company, incorporated five months ago, also plans toexecute license option agreements with research institutes forother parts of the vaccine, said Anthony Maida, chief executiveofficer.
The approach of the company, which is temporarily based inTiburon, Calif., differs from cancer therapies using monoclonalantibodies to deliver radionuclides or toxins to tumors, Spitlersaid, since Jenner proposes provoking the patient's ownimmune response.
The vaccines are intended to combine live recombinant viral orbacterial vectors with engineered antigens to the tumor. Themicrobe carrier should work as a vaccine adjuvant, enhancingimmune response to the antigens.
The immune system is believed to rid the body of cancerouscells on its own in a way that somehow falls short when tumorsdevelop.
Spitler envisions having the vaccines used after surgery to ridthe body of microscopic traces of cancer. She does not expectthe approach to be powerful enough to treat metastatic disease,however.
The company's initial focus is colorectal and lung cancer, whichrepresent the largest patient populations, Spitler said, and haveno effective therapeutic alternatives.
Spitler, who left Xoma in 1988 after seven years, was mostrecently affiliated with Biotherapeutics, a Franklin, Tenn.,service company that performed research services for cancerpatients prior to becoming a home health care business.
She told BioWorld she started the new company because "onthe science side, the vaccines have the potential for reallychanging the course of cancer. If you have lung cancer, you canget it excised, but the writing's on the wall (because) the five-year survival rate is less than 10 percent. Chemotherapy mayextend life a couple of months, at the cost of great agony to thepatient."
The Regulation D financing allowed the company to avoid theexpense of registering with the Securities and ExchangeCommission, Maida said. The company sought $1.6 million totake its concept up to and through a Phase I trial, usingcontract organizations and sponsored research.
After the company spent about sixth months rounding up largeprivate investors, the seed financing was actuallyoversubscribed, he said, and some investors had to be turneddown.
Regulation D investment, a sort of public version of venturecapital, requires high net-worth investors who are supposed tobe sophisticated enough to understand the risks and able toabsorb any potential loss. The financing scheme was embodiedin the Securities and Exchange Act of 1933 as a less-burdensome way for small companies to raise money. Thisscheme may also preserve more equity for company founders,but side-step business oversight by venture capital investors.
Maida estimated that treating all colorectal and lung cancerpatients after surgery represents a potential $1 billion annualmarket.
-- Nancy Garcia Associate Editor
(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.