Advaxis President and Chief Executive Officer Daniel J. O’Connor accepts Medical Visionary Angel Award at Farrah Fawcett Foundation program on Sept. 9. (Photo Credit: JCMCC Inc. Photo)
TRENTON (September 24, 2015) – Four and a half years after graduating from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority's (EDA) Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies (CCIT) in North Brunswick, clinical-stage biotechnology company Advaxis continues to receive national recognition for its innovative therapies. The Princeton-based company develops immunotherapies to combat various forms of cancer, including human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancers, prostate cancer and certain aggressive types of cancerous solid tumors.
On September 14, Advaxis announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Orphan Products Grants Program awarded $1.1 million over the course of three years to Baylor College of Medicine to support the ongoing Phase 2 trial of the biotechnology company's lead immunotherapy, axalimogene filolisbac (ADXS-HPV), in HPV-associated oropharynx (throat) cancer, a type of head and neck cancer. The goal of the Orphan Products Grants Program is to encourage clinical development of products for use in rare diseases or conditions.
That same week, Advaxis and the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) announced that ADXS-HPV showed a 12-month survival rate of 38.5 percent in 26 patients with persistent/recurrent metastatic cervical cancer (PRmCC) in Stage 1 of an ongoing Phase 2 trial. According to Advaxis President and Chief Executive Officer Daniel J. O'Connor, the GOG has conducted more than 17 studies of a diverse set of investigational agents and regimens, but never has the 12-month overall survival rate exceeded 30 percent in PRmCC.
Earlier this month, Advaxis accepted the Farrah Fawcett Foundation's inaugural "Medical Visionary Angel Award," in recognition of the company's commitment to innovative research in anal cancer and HPV-related cancers. Fawcett died in 2009 at the age of 62 after a three-year battle with anal cancer. While accepting the award, O'Connor announced the company will initiate a Phase 2 clinical study of ADXS-HPV in metastatic anal cancer, aptly named the Fawcett trial.
"Advaxis is a prime example of why New Jersey is a great state for an emerging technology business," EDA Chief Executive Officer Melissa Orsen said. "The EDA is pleased to have been able to support Advaxis and to see it receive this well-deserved recognition."
Advaxis graduated from CCIT in 2011. During its time at the life sciences incubator, the company had access to a multitude of resources to further its growth. CCIT offers emerging life sciences companies affordable lab and office space. The incubator also provides a wide variety of programs and services to its tenants, including help identifying funding sources, access to small business development resources, and opportunities to speak with on-site mentors.
Advaxis also benefited from the State's New Jersey's Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer (NOL) Program. The company was one of 44 companies that shared a total of $54 million through the NOL Program in Fiscal Year 2015. Since the program's inception in 1999, more than 500 businesses have been approved for awards totaling $820 million.
@NJEDATech asked O'Connor about the company's experience in New Jersey and its plans for the future.
1. Why did you choose to grow your company in New Jersey?
I'm a lifelong NJ resident and am committed to growing our company right here in New Jersey where there is an excellent base of talent and thought leaders to draw upon as we grow.
2. How did resources provided through CCIT and the NOL program benefit Advaxis?
The non-dilutive capital we received from the NOL program has allowed Advaxis to continue our development efforts. We strive to make a difference in patients' lives, and with three products in clinical development and an exciting and robust pipeline to follow, resources are needed to move forward. The funding we have received gets put right back into our technology, helping to provide better medicines for patients in need.
3. What do you consider Advaxis's biggest success to date?
Advaxis's biggest success to date is the company turnaround in 2013. I joined the company, along with a new leadership team, and we uplisted to Nasdaq with a $20 million capital raise, the proceeds of which fund research and development activities for our Lm Technology™ immunotherapy pipeline.
4. What's in store for your company in the near future?
Advaxis's vision for the future is to maximize the potential of its proprietary Lm Technology™ immunotherapy platform and focus on advancing lead product candidate, ADXS-HPV, into a Phase 3 study for invasive cervical cancer. We also look to continue developing the more than 20 distinct Lm Technology™ immunotherapies in our pipeline and partnering with leading academic and biopharmaceutical industry leaders.
For more information about resources available to support New Jersey's technology industry, visit http://www.njeda.com/tls and follow @NJEDATech on Twitter and LinkedIn.