The Development and Design of the MelVac platform and lead product, DC-MelVac
The sentinel discovery of the concept and technology can be traced to when Dr. Wallack began his research at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, PA, and developed a Cancer Vaccine against Melanoma from 1973 to 1977. This vaccine used a live vaccinia vaccine virus–augmented polyvalent melanoma cell lysates called Vaccinia Melanoma Oncolysate (VMO). The choice of vaccinia virus as an adjuvant for the preparation of VMO was made for two clinically sound reasons;
- Vaccinia Virus enhanced the immunogenicity of tumors.
- The safety profile of Vaccinia Virus was validated since it was used for mass immunizations against smallpox throughout the world.
The first cancer vaccine developed by Dr. Wallack was produced at the Institute Merieux in Lyon, France, and was tested in human melanoma clinical trials, first in Lyon, France and then in the United States. In the United States, the Phase I and Phase II trials were sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and performed within the Southeastern Cancer Study Group (SECSG). The SECSG Phase I trial determined the limited toxicity and the effective dose of the VMO, and the SECSG Phase II trial evaluated both the immune responses and the clinical responses induced by the VMO in Stage III melanoma patients with more than five positive nodes in the draining lymph node area located near the primary tumor.