Provectus Biopharmaceuticals Announces Discovery of Unique PV-10®-Induced STING Pathway Mechanism for Presentation at American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting II

Monday June 22, 2020
  • PV-10 treatment leads to STING dimerization
  • Researchers identify potential association of heat shock proteins with STING in PV-10-treated models

KNOXVILLE, TN, June 22, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) - Provectus (OTCQB: PVCT) today is pleased to announce that data from ongoing preclinical study of investigational autolytic cancer immunotherapy PV-10 (rose bengal disodium) is being presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting II, held online June 22-24, 2020. This PV-10 research has been led by Aru Narendran, MD, PhD and his team of researchers at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada (UCalgary).

Dr. Narendran and his colleagues studied the effects of PV-10 treatment on primary cells and cell lines derived from pediatric leukemia patients. UCalgary showed that PV-10 treatment led to STING dimerization and the release of interferon gamma (IFNγ), indicating a potential immune activation mechanism of PV-10. UClalgary further showed that heat shock proteins (HSPs), which chaperone misfolded or abnormally folded proteins, associated with STING dimerization in PV-10-treated cells, indicating a mechanism that may lead to enhanced STING activation following PV-10 treatment.

A copy of the AACR poster presentation is available on Provectus' website at https://www.provectusbio.com/aacr-2020-poster.

"The essence of cancer is the struggle for survival of these abnormal cells in the body. Over the course of their existence, cancer cells acquire multiple cellular pathways that become active or inactive in order for cancer to have a survival advantage against our immune system. This struggle changes the biology of cancer cells, which may have a direct impact on the activity of anticancer drugs within these cells," Dr. Narendran said. "We observed these very dynamics from our research on PV-10 and pediatric leukemia cells. Classic STING activation does not occur through PV-10 treatment. Rather, STING forms a dimer complex following PV-10 treatment, which may potentially lead to effective immune activation and anticancer activity."

Dr. Narendran added, "Our PV-10 research has enabled us to show, we believe for the first time, that heat shock proteins, which play important roles in the survival of cancer cells, are involved in STING activation. We also believe the involvement of heat shock proteins with STING is an important observation that requires further study."

Dominic Rodrigues, Vice Chair of Provectus' Board of Directors, said "We are grateful to Dr. Narendran, his team, and the University of Calgary for their consequential research on PV-10 to better understand the basic biology of cancer. This seminal discovery of PV-10-induced alterations of the STING pathway, which plays a pivotal role in innate immunity, contributes to an increasing body of knowledge about how and why PV-10 may function as an immunotherapy across a growing number of cancer types."

About PV-10

By targeting tumor cell lysosomes, investigational new drug PV-10 treatment may yield immunogenic cell death in solid tumor cancers that results in tumor-specific reactivity in circulating T cells and a T cell mediated immune response against treatment refractory and immunologically cold tumors.1-3 Adaptive immunity can be enhanced by combining checkpoint blockade (CB) with PV-10.4

PV-10 is undergoing clinical study for adult solid tumor cancers, such as relapsed and refractory cancers metastatic to the liver and metastatic melanoma. PV-10 is also undergoing preclinical study for relapsed and refractory pediatric solid tumor cancers (e.g., neuroblastoma, Ewing sarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, and osteosarcoma5,6 and relapsed and refractory pediatric blood cancers (such as acute lymphocytic leukemia and acute myelomonocytic leukemia)7,8.

Tumor Cell Lysosomes as the Seminal Drug Target

Lysosomes are the central organelles for intracellular degradation of biological materials, and nearly all types of eukaryotic cells have them. Discovered by Christian de Duve, MD in 1955, lysosomes are linked to several biological processes, including cell death and immune response. In 1959, de Duve described them as 'suicide bags' because their rupture causes cell death and tissue autolysis. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1974 for discovering and characterizing lysosomes, which are also linked to each of the three primary cell death pathways: apoptosis, autophagy, and necrosis.

Building on the Discovery, Exploration, and Characterization of Lysosomes

Cancer cells, particularly advanced cancer cells, are very dependent on effective lysosomal functioning9. Cancer progression and metastasis are associated with lysosomal compartment changes10,11, which are closely correlated with (among other things) invasive growth, angiogenesis, and drug resistance12.

PV-10 selectively accumulates in the lysosomes of cancer cells upon contact, disrupting the lysosomes and causing the cells to die. Provectus1,13, external collaborators6, and other researchers14,15,16 have independently shown that PV-10 (RB) triggers each of the three primary cell death pathways: apoptosis, autophagy, and necrosis.

Cancer Cell Autolytic Death via PV-10: PV-10 induced autolytic cell death, or death by self-digestion, in Hepa1-6 murine HCC cells can be viewed in this Provectus video of this event (ethidium homodimer [ED-1] stains DNA, but is excluded from intact nuclei; lysosensor green [LSG] stains intact lysosomes; the video is provided in 30-second frames; the event has a duration of approximately one hour). Exposure to PV-10 triggers the disruption of lysosomes, followed by nucleus failure and autolytic cell death. Identical responses have been shown by the Company in HTB-133 human breast carcinoma (which can be viewed in this Provectus video; this event has a duration of approximately two hours) and H69Ar human multidrug-resistant small cell lung carcinoma. Cancer cell autolytic cell death was reproduced by research collaborators from POETIC using relapsed and refractory human pediatric neuroblastoma cells to show that lysosomes are disrupted upon exposure to PV-10.5

PV-10 causes acute autolytic destruction of injected tumors (i.e., cell death), mediating the release of danger-associated molecular pattern molecules (DAMPs) and tumor antigens that may initiate an immunologic cascade where local response by the innate immune system may facilitate systemic anti-tumor immunity by the adaptive immune system. The DAMP release-mediated adaptive immune response activates lymphocytes, including CD8+ T cells, CD4+ T cells, and NKT cells, based on clinical and preclinical experience in multiple tumor types. Mediated immune signaling pathways may include an effect on STING, which plays an important role in innate immunity8.

 

Orphan Drug Designations (ODDs)

ODD status has been granted to PV-10 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatments of metastatic melanoma in 2006, hepatocellular carcinoma in 2011, neuroblastoma in 2018, and ocular melanoma (including uveal melanoma) in 2019.

Drug Product

Rose bengal disodium (RB) (4,5,6,7-tetrachloro-2',4',5',7'-tetraiodofluorescein disodium salt) is a small molecule halogenated xanthene and PV-10's active pharmaceutical ingredient. The Company manufactures RB using a patented process designed to meet strict modern global quality requirements for pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical ingredients (Good Manufacturing Practice, or GMP). PV-10 drug product is an injectable formulation of 10% w/v GMP RB in 0.9% saline, supplied in single-use glass vials containing 5 mL (to deliver) of solution, and administered without dilution to solid tumors via IT injection.

Intellectual Property (IP)

Provectus' IP includes a family of US and international (a number of countries in Asia, Europe, and North America) patents that protect the process by which GMP RB and related halogenated xanthenes are produced, avoiding the formation of previously unknown impurities that exist in commercial grade RB in uncontrolled amounts. The requirement to control these impurities is in accordance with International Council on Harmonisation (ICH) guidelines for the manufacturing of an injectable pharmaceutical. US patent numbers are 8,530,675, 9,273,022, and 9,422,260, with expirations ranging from 2030 to 2031.

The Company's IP also includes a family of US and international (a number of countries in Asia, Europe, and North America) patents that protect the combination of PV-10 and systemic immunomodulatory therapy (e.g., anti-CTLA-4, anti-PD-1, and anti-PD-L1 agents) for the treatment of a range of solid tumor cancers. US patent numbers are 9,107,887, 9,808,524, 9,839,688, and 10,471,144, with expirations ranging from 2032 to 2035; US patent application numbers include 20200138942.

About Provectus

Provectus Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. (Provectus or the Company) is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing a new class of drugs based on an entirely-and-wholly-owned family of chemical small molecules called halogenated xanthenes. Information about the Company's clinical trials can be found at the NIH registry, www.clinicaltrials.gov. For additional information about Provectus, please visit the Company's website at www.provectusbio.com.

References

  1. Wachter et al. Functional Imaging of Photosensitizers using Multiphoton Microscopy. Proceedings of SPIE 4620, 143, 2002.
  2. Liu et al. Intralesional rose bengal in melanoma elicits tumor immunity via activation of dendritic cells by the release of high mobility group box 1. Oncotarget 7, 37893, 2016.
  3. Qin et al. Colon cancer cell treatment with rose bengal generates a protective immune response via immunogenic cell death. Cell Death and Disease 8, e2584, 2017.
  4. Liu et al. T cell mediated immunity after combination therapy with intralesional PV-10 and blockade of the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway in a murine melanoma model. PLoS One 13, e0196033, 2018.
  5. Swift et al. Potent in vitro and xenograft antitumor activity of a novel agent, PV-10, against relapsed and refractory neuroblastoma. OncoTargets and Therapy 12, 1293, 2019.
  6. Swift et al. In vitro and xenograft anti-tumor activity, target modulation and drug synergy studies of PV-10 against refractory pediatric solid tumors. 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting, J Clin Oncol 36, 2018 (suppl; abstr 10557).
  7. Swift et al. In Vitro Activity and Target Modulation of PV-10 Against Relapsed and Refractory Pediatric Leukemia 2018 ASH Annual Meeting, Blood 132 2018 (suppl; abstr 5207).
  8. Narendran et al. Association of heat shock proteins as chaperone for STING: A potential link in a key immune activation mechanism revealed by the novel anti-cancer agent PV-10. 2020 AACR VAM II, pending (abstr 5393).
  9. Piao et al. Targeting the lysosome in cancer. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2016; 1371(1): 45.
  10. Nishimura et al. Malignant Transformation Alters Intracellular Trafficking of Lysosomal Cathespin D in Human Breast Epithelial Cells. Pathology Oncology Research. 1998; 4(4): 283.
  11. Gocheva et al. Distinct roles for cysteine cathepsin genes in multistage tumorigenesis. Genes & Development. 2006; 20(5): 543.
  12. Fehrenbacher et al. Lysosomes as Targets for Cancer Therapy. Cancer Research. 2005; 65 (8): 2993.
  13. Wachter et al. Imaging Photosensitizer Distribution and Pharmacology using Multiphoton Microscopy. Proceedings of SPIE 4622, 112, 2002..
  14. Koevary Selective toxicity of rose Bengal to ovarian cancer cells in vitro. International Journal of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Pharmacology 4(2), 99, 2012.
  15. Zamani et al. Rose Bengal suppresses gastric cancer cell proliferation via apoptosis and inhibits nitric oxide formation in macrophages. Journal of Immunotoxicology, 11(4), 367, 2014.
  16. Luciana et al. Rose Bengal Acetate photodynamic therapy-induced autophagy. Cancer Biology & Therapy, 10:10, 1048, 2010.

Trademark

PV-10® is a registered trademark of Provectus, Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.A.

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS: This release contains forward-looking statements as defined under U.S. federal securities laws. These statements reflect management's current knowledge, assumptions, beliefs, estimates, and expectations and express management's current views of future performance, results, and trends and may be identified by their use of terms such as "anticipate," "believe," "could," "estimate," "expect," "intend," "may," "plan," "predict," "project," "will," and other similar terms. Forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to materially differ from those described in the forward-looking statements. Readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Such statements are made as of the date hereof, and we undertake no obligation to update such statements after this date. No claims with respect to PV-10, Provectus' investigational drug for oncology, or PH-10, the Company's investigational drug for dermatology, are intended regarding safety or efficacy in the context of any forward-looking statements made in this press release.

Risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to materially differ from those described in forward-looking statements include those discussed in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (including those described in Item 1A of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019).

Contact:

Provectus Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.
Heather Raines, CPA
Chief Financial Officer
Phone: 866-594-5999

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