UNMC partners with Hemispherx Biopharma to take on pancreatic cancer

March 14, 2018

Image with caption: Tony Hollingsworth, Ph.D.

Tony Hollingsworth, Ph.D.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center and Hemispherx Biopharma, Inc. are joining forces to take on pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly forms of cancer. In mouse model studies, Hemispherx’s immune-enhancing drug, Ampligen - an immune-enhancer TLR3 agonist - will be administered with a peptide vaccine developed by UNMC.

The study will test the capability of Ampligen to enhance immune responses when combined with a peptide vaccine developed by UNMC for MUC1-positive pancreatic cancer. MUC1, a tumor-associated antigen, is produced by many common, highly lethal cancers, including cancers of the colon, breast, ovary, lung and pancreas.

In the study, UNMC researchers will immunize mice with pancreatic tumors expressing MUC1. The mice will receive Ampligen in combination with the peptide vaccine, with subsequent immune checkpoint blockade. 

"A prior pre-clinical vaccine study at UNMC using Ampligen in combination with the checkpoint blockade yielded promising results," said David Strayer, MD, chief scientific officer for Hemispherx.

"The objective now is to expand this experimental vaccination approach using Ampligen and a more specific antigen in combination with the checkpoint blockade. We believe these studies may yield important insights."

UNMC is one of the leading institutions in the country in studying pancreatic cancer. In 2014, UNMC received a five-year renewal of its $11.5 million pancreatic cancer SPORE (Specialized Programs of Research Excellence) grant from the National Cancer Institute.

"We are working hard to discover better treatments for pancreatic cancer," said Tony Hollingsworth, Ph.D., the Leon Professor of Cancer and director of pancreatic cancer research for UNMC. "We believe Ampligen is an agent that holds tremendous promise - not only for pancreatic cancer, but also for a variety of other cancers."

"We are delighted UNMC is continuing with these animal studies as part of our step-by-step progression to develop effective treatments that will prolong or possibly save the lives of people with pancreatic cancer, a devastating disease with a five to six percent five-year survival rate," said Thomas K. Equels, chief executive officer of Hemispherx. "Finding a cure for this highly lethal malignancy is one of our top priorities."

About Hemispherx Biopharma

Hemispherx Biopharma, Inc. is an advanced specialty pharmaceutical company engaged in the clinical development of new drug entities for treatment of seriously debilitating disorders. Hemispherx’s flagship products include Alferon N Injection® and the experimental therapeutic rintatolimod (tradenames Ampligen® or Rintamod®). Rintatolimod is an experimental RNA nucleic acid being developed for globally important debilitating diseases and disorders of the immune system, including myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Hemispherx’s platform technology includes components for potential treatment of various severely debilitating and life-threatening diseases. Because rintatolimod is experimental in nature, it is not designated safe and effective by the FDA for general use and is legally available only through clinical trials.

Cautionary Statement

Some of the statements included in this press release may be forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. For those statements, we claim the protection of the safe harbor for forward-looking statements contained in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  Among other uncertainties, the study will be preliminary and non-clinical and Ampligen’s® ability to treat or assist in the treatment on pancreatic cancer, while promising, will require significant additional testing and no assurance can be given that Ampligen® will prove effective in such treatment. Any forward-looking statements set forth in this press release speak only as of the date of this press release. We do not undertake to update any of these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances that occur after the date hereof. This press release and prior releases are available at www.hemispherx.net. The information found on our website is not incorporated by reference into this press release and is included for reference purposes only.

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