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Start-up killing cancer with electricity and immunity

Posting in Cancer

A biotech start-up is combining immunotherapy with a novel approach to bolster to your body's ability to naturally kill off cancer cells, using electricity to shock tumors.

OncoSec Medical announced a US$7.2 million public offering on Thursday. The company has developed "ImmunoPulse," a method of using an electric field to bind a gene-based immune trigger with cancer cells so that the body can produce a systemic response against a tumor. This approach could greatly reduce the duration of treatments, as well as be applied to aiding the delivery of conventional chemotherapy drugs. The company is a little over a year old, and is backed by VCs.

Phase II clinical trials are now underway to test the efficacy of ImmunoPulse on three rare skin cancers: metastatic melanoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. The clinical trials are being conducted at the University of California San Francisco and the University of Washington in Seattle.

Existing immunotherapy treatments have improved overall survival, but are very aggressive and less targeted, said Punit Dhillon CEO of OncoSec. The toxicity of current treatments is high, and they have an expensive side effect profile, he added. If approved, the ImmunoPulse treatment would be available in 2018.

"We feel one of our central arguments is to reduce the cost by focusing on improving quality of life for patients," Dhillon explained. "There is a pipeline of other skin cancer and solid tumor indications." Those include advanced Basel Cell Carcinoma and advanced Squamous Cell Carcinoma, he noted in a follow-up e-mail.

(Image credit: OncoSec)

— By on December 16, 2012, 12:22 PM PST

David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure