Amid the renewed public interest in vaccine development during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, little has been reported about developing a new immunotherapy vaccine and treatment that could benefit malignant mesothelioma patients immensely.

Targovax ASA, a biotechnology company headquartered in Oslo, Norway, has been developing the ONCOS-102 immunotherapy vaccine designed to treat the likes of malignant pleural mesothelioma tumors through oncolytic virus therapy.

For those unfamiliar with this sort of treatment, oncolytic virus therapy is a form of immunotherapy that utilizes viruses to infect and terminate cancer cells in the body.

The viruses are designed as particles that enter the cells then use the genetic machinery in the cellular structures to make copies of themselves and spread surrounding uninfected cells. Targovax is utilizing this biotechnology to develop potential clinical applications to address malignant cancer tumors, in addition to mesothelioma.

ONCOS-102 in the clinical setting

ONCOS-102 was implemented in an 18-month clinical trial that measured the tumor's overall survivability rate for patients receiving the ONCOS-102 therapy plus standard chemotherapy in initial rounds of treatment through a controlled group.

The survival rate was at least 18.2 months, compared to only 14.2 months or less with a control group of patients who were only under first-line chemotherapy treatment.

According to the trial findings, patients treated with ONCOS-102 show "broad and powerful immune activation," which was "associated with better survival outcome."

Mesowatch.com contacted Targovax for comment, but they only sent us press releases.

"We are very pleased that overall survival in first-line patients, is tracking well in the ONCOS-102 treated group," said Magnus Jäderberg, the chief medical officer of Targovax, in a press release filed with the media on November 24. "This is exactly what we had hoped to see and prepared the way for combining ONCOS-102 with checkpoint inhibition."

The subsequent survival analysis is planned for the first half of 2021, Targovax noted.

Other findings related to ONCOS-102

On December 1, Targovax also announced that ONCOS-102 had beneficial treatment for at least 35 percent of patients in the objective response rate — the total number of patients with tumor size reduction of a predefined amount and a minimum time of prognosis.

This trial was intended to test the effectiveness of ONCOS-102 and the immunotherapy cancer drug pembrolizumab, also known as Keytruda.

The trial was a two-part phase 1 clinical trial that found improvement in refractory malignant melanoma, or a skin tumor that might be resistant at the beginning of treatment and during treatment.