Working together, ZIOPHARM and Intrexon are on the path to treating melanoma

The skin is the body’s largest organ, protecting other vital organs and shielding the body from heat, injury and infection. It also protects the body from damage caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun, manufactures vitamin D and stores water and fat.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States with approximately 2 million people per year diagnosed with some form of the disease. A smaller number, 75,000, of these Americans were diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, in 2013. Nearly 10,000 of those diagnosed this year died from the disease.

Current treatments for melanoma include surgery, chemotherapy, photodynamic (laser) therapy and radiation therapy. For some with the most advanced stages of melanoma, biologic therapies may improve the body's natural defense (immune system response) against cancer. There are currently two biologics approved in the treatment of melanoma – interferon, which can slow the growth of melanoma cells and interleukin-2, which can help the body destroy cancer cells.

Intrexon and ZIOPHARM have partnered to create the next generation of biologics, advancing the treatment of melanoma to include targeted and highly regulatable therapeutics. ZIOPHARM’s therapy employs an adenoviral vector to deliver, directly into the patient's cells, a gene which expresses Interleukin-12 (IL-12). IL-12 is a potent, naturally occurring cytokine central to the initiation and regulation of cellular immune responses.  To date, IL-12 has had limited use as a therapeutic agent due to significant toxic effects that occur with systemic administration.

Unique to the IL-12 therapy developed by Intrexon and ZIOPHARM is tight regulation of IL-12 production within cells through Intrexon’s RheoSwitch Therapeutic System® (RTS®) platform, a gene switch controlled by an orally administered small molecule activator ligand (AL). 

ZIOPHARM recently presented positive Phase I data at the world’s premier clinical oncology meeting – the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. For the study, Ad-RTS-IL-12, an adenoviral vector engineered to express IL-12 under RTS® control was injected into the tumors of patients with advanced melanoma. Expression of IL-12 was controlled through the administration of an oral AL.

ZIOPHARM observed improvement in lesion appearance in 71 percent of patients dosed at the two highest dose levels.  In addition, after receiving Ad-RTS-IL-12 and the activator ligand this group of patients expressed high levels of IL-12 and interferon, both of which boost immune response to cancer. 

These promising results demonstrate the potential for regulatable therapies to harness the power of the immune system to elicit an anti-cancer response.  The Phase I study observations are the foundation for an ongoing Phase II study with Ad-RTS-IL-12 that will focus on optimizing a dosing schedule.
In the News
Intrexon to Acquire Trans Ova Genetics
Trans Ova Platform Combined with Intrexon's Technologies to Advance Cattle Genetics SIOUX CENTER, Iowa and GERMANTOWN, Md., July 1, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON), a leader in synthetic biology, today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Trans Ova Genetics, L.C., an industry-leading provider of bovine reproductive technologies.  Trans Ova's dedication and strong commitment to its customers, which has sustained its outstanding reputation within its industry, will continue unabated.  Trans Ova will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Intrexon under the leadership of David Faber, D.V.M., President, and his current management team.  Over...
Intrexon's Industrial Products Division Achieves Bioconversion of Methane to Farnesene
Second Product of Intrexon's Proprietary Bioconversion Platform Following Isobutanol Intrexon's Gas-to-Liquids Approach Significantly More Cost-Efficient Versus Conventional Methods SAN CARLOS, Calif., June 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON), a leader in synthetic biology, today announced its Industrial Products Division has achieved the bioconversion of methane to farnesene in the lab with its proprietary platform. Farnesene is a key building block chemical for diesel fuel, and also for other lubricants and specialty products, including cosmetics, rubber, and plastics. This is the second product, following isobutanol, which Intrexon has upgraded from natural ga...
Intrexon Names Christopher Basta Vice President of Investor Relations
GERMANTOWN, Md., May 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Intrexon Corporation (NYSE: XON), a leader in synthetic biology, today announced the appointment of Christopher Basta as Vice President of Investor Relations, effective immediately. Mr. Basta will report directly to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Randal J. Kirk. Mr. Basta brings more than 18 years of financial experience to Intrexon.  Most recently, he was a consultant for DSP Group directing its investor relations initiatives.  Prior to his consulting work, Mr. Basta spent the majority of his Wall Street career at Royal Bank of Canada, where over nine years he helped establish its Middle Markets division and subsequently transitioned...