DCVax-L (Northwest Biotherapeutics) is a dendritic cell vaccine in development for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). It is a personalized immunotherapy that utilizes patients’ own dendritic cells to stimulate an immune response that specifically targets tumor cells. In the DCVax-L manufacturing process, precursor cells (monocytes) are extracted from the patient by leukapheresis and then matured, before being activated by the addition of lysate from the patient’s own tumor tissue (collected during surgery to remove tumors). After purification, the activated dendritic cells are then infused back into the patient’s body where they recruit T cells, B cells, and other immune cells, to attack and destroy tumors via recognition of GBM-specific antigens.
Northwest Biotherapeutics has released few clinical data concerning its personalized cancer vaccine candidate, DCVax-L, in newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). German regulatory authorities approved a compassionate access scheme in March 2014 after being provided with a more comprehensive dataset. This can be interpreted as a vote of confidence that may dispel some of the skepticism expressed by investors regarding the company’s claims to the drug’s efficacy, despite the absence of peer-reviewed data. Datamonitor Healthcare anticipates that Northwest Biotherapeutics will be forced to give DCVax-L a premium price to recoup manufacturing costs, and that this will limit the drug’s commercial potential.
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