San Diego Business Journal

National Cancer Institute Gives Boost to MabVax

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

MabVax Therapeutics Inc., a locally based biotechnology company, recently announced that the company received a $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Cancer Institute.

The grant will be used to manufacture and further test the company’s neuroblastoma vaccine, which recently underwent a Phase 1 trial and is set to undergo a Phase 2 clinical trial in 2013. The current Phase 1 study will be continued until the Phase 2 trial begins next year.

Neuroblastoma is a form of cancer that usually starts in the nerve cells of an embryo and afflicts infants and young children.

“There is a significant medical need to develop new therapies aimed at preventing recurrent disease in this childhood cancer,” David Hansen, CEO of MabVax, said in a statement.

The company’s neuroblastoma vaccine tells the patient’s immune system to make certain antibodies that work against the antigens present on the neuroblastoma cells’ surface. The antibodies also seek out any residual circulating cancer cells and destroy them, according to a news release.

The vaccine was developed at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

MabVax closed two Series A rounds of venture funding in February 2008 and August 2009 and closed the first tranche of a $5.25 million Series B round of funding in November, according to Hansen.

— Emily Pippin