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Business Observer Monday, Aug. 27, 2018 2 months ago

Biotech firm advances skin cancer treatment program

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Tampa-based Morphogenesis Inc.’s vaccine will be tested on humans in a clinical trial.

TAMPA —  Morphogenesis Inc., a Tampa-based biotech company that raised $16 million in investment funding in May, will embark on the first human clinical study of its immunotherapeutic vaccine designed to treat melanoma.

According to a press release, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has approved the tests, which are the product of a collaboration between Morphogenesis and the cutaneous oncology program at Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center.

Tampa philanthropist Kiran Patel — via his company, KP Biotech Group, which led the $16 million Series A investment round — is a major backer of Morphogenesis. In the release, the company credits Patel for making the clinical trials possible.

“I am excited to provide this novel agent to our melanoma patients and to continue our research to understand the mechanism of action within patient-derived samples,” states Joseph Markowitz, Moffitt’s principal investigator on phase one of the clinical trials, in the release. “Our goal is to enhance the ability of the immune system to recognize and eliminate tumors leading to improved outcomes in melanoma patients.”

The first phase of the trial will deliver an injection of the vaccine into lesions found on patients who are suffering from stage III/IV metastatic melanoma. Then, the patients will be assessed over a four-week period to establish the product’s safety and feasibility of use, the release adds. 

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