Argos Therapeutics has announced the start of a clinical trial using a novel personalized melanoma vaccine based on the company’s proprietary technology.

“Our expertise in dendritic cell biology is enabling the development of new therapies to treat cancer, infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders, and transplantation rejection. Our personalized vaccines have the ability to trigger an individual’s immune system to fight the invading disease,” said Clint G. Dederick, chairman and CEO of Argos Therapeutics.

The product is made from the patient’s own tumor genes and immune cells and is the first of its kind to be developed for melanoma. This investigator-sponsored trial marks an expansion by the company into a second form of cancer. Studies will test Argos’ RNA-loaded autologous dendritic cell vaccine among patients with Stage IV melanoma. The trial will be conducted at the University Hospital of Erlangen in Erlangen, Germany.

“The melanoma trial extends Argos’ vaccine technology to treat yet another type of cancer. Our goal as a company is to make more effective and tolerable treatment options available to patients,” said Dederick.

Argos’ RNA-loaded dendritic cell vaccine is currently in a Phase I/II corporate-sponsored clinical trial for renal (kidney) cell cancer at five sites across the United States and Canada. According to Lothar Finke, M.D., chief medical officer and vice president, regulatory affairs for Argos, the company is applying the same technology and process to the melanoma trial.

To create the personalized vaccine, Argos scientists’ pair dendritic cells from the patient’s body with genetic material (RNA) amplified from the patient’s tumor, thereby making it specific to each person’s cancer. The vaccine is then put back into the patient’s body and stimulates the immune system to recognize and fight the cancer — in this case — melanoma. With this approach a large number of vaccine doses can be prepared from a single manufacturing run and only a small tumor specimen is required.

“World-wide prevalence of melanoma continues to rise, and new late-stage melanoma treatment options are scarce,” said Gerold Schuler, M.D., principle investigator and Professor of Dermatology and Chairman of the Department of Dermatology, University Hospital of Erlangen. “We look forward to making progress with this personalized vaccine treatment because there have not been significant advances in medical therapies — or survival — for patients with advanced melanoma in over three decades.”