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Heat Biologics, OncoSec Collaborate on Cancer Immunotherapy

Xconomy Raleigh-Durham — 

Heat Biologics and OncoSec Medical are joining forces to see how their different approaches to cancer immunotherapy might work together.

Durham, NC-based Heat (NASDAQ: HTBX) and San Diego-based OncoSec (OTC: ONCS) announced the collaboration Wednesday. No financial terms were disclosed.

Heat has developed a technology platform that introduces antigens that share characteristics of cancer cells. The idea is these substances will prompt the body’s immune system to fight the cancer. Heat’s approach also introduces a modified protein that the company says will stimulate the immune system to further recognize cancer antigens, enabling a broader immune response to the disease.

OncoSec has been testing a way of enhancing the delivery of cancer drugs to tumors by using electrical pulses. OncoSec acquired the technology, which it calls ImmunoPulse, from Pennsylvania company Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: INO) in 2011. OncoSec has tested ImmunoPulse as a way to deliver to cancer cells a DNA plasmid encoded with immunotherapeutic proteins intended to prompt an immune response—an approach called DNA-based immunotherapy. Heat and OncoSec say that they will evaluate how they can combine the two technologies using proprietary DNA constructs from Heat. The Durham company says OncoSec’s technology could help it enter the field of DNA-based immunotherapy.

Heat has taken its own cancer immunotherapy technology into Phase 2 clinical trials evaluating candidates in non-small cell lung cancer and bladder cancer. The company also has three other compounds in the preclinical stage.

For its part, OncoSec has taken ImmunoPulse into Phase 2 clinical trials evaluating the technology as a treatment for metastatic melanoma, head and neck cancer, triple negative breast cancer, and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.