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HPV vaccine involving Sanford researcher moving to clinical trials

Dr. John Lee leads research collaboration with Etubics Corporation

John Lee 150X150(Sioux Falls, SD) –Etubics Corporation has received a $1.03 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to move a vaccine for human papilloma virus (HPV) developed by a Sanford researcher to clinical trials. The vaccine was engineered by Sanford Research’s John Lee, MD, and his team in collaboration with Etubics.

In October, a study led by Lee and published by Cancer Gene Therapy indicated a Etubics drug (Ad5 [E1-, E2b-]), when used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation, successfully improved long-term survival of animals expressing HPV.

The grant will support the necessary pre-clinical experiments to allow Etubics’ HPV vaccine, which targets head and neck cancers, to enter into clinical trials.Etubics logo

The Etubics drug delivers E6 and E7 proteins of HPV (HPV-E6/E7) as a safe vaccine, giving it the ability to deliver a long lasting "active" immune response against cancer targets and educating the immune system's T-cells to act as if the cancer is a simple virus.

“While the results of our trials in animal models were exciting, the potential of translating this vaccine to a human application could be a game changer,” said Lee, a Sanford Clinic ear, nose and throat specialist. “The incidence of head and neck cancer is on the rise, and research has indicated that HPV is playing a key role in that.”

HPV is the leading cause of more than 90 percent of cervical cancers and is linked to 60 percent of head and neck cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, no HPV therapeutic vaccine is effective at treating established tumors, despite its success with preventing HPV infection.

Etubics is a clinical stage bio-pharmaceutical company with a proprietary platform vaccine technology that delivers a long lasting "active" immune response against diseases.

About Sanford Research/USD
Sanford Research/USD is a non-profit research organization formed between Sanford Health and the University of South Dakota. Sanford Health is an integrated health system headquartered in Fargo, ND and Sioux Falls, SD and represents the largest, rural, not-for-profit healthcare system in the nation with a presence in 111 communities, eight states and two countries. In 2007, a transformational gift of $400 million by Denny Sanford provided for an expansion of children’s and research initiatives, specifically finding a cure for type 1 diabetes, and has given Sanford Research significant momentum in its goal of becoming one of the premiere research institutions in the United States and the world. Most recently, a subsequent gift of $100 million by Mr. Sanford has paved the way to establish Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Research.

With a team of more than 200 researchers, Sanford Research comprises several research centers, including Children’s Health Research, Edith Sanford Breast Cancer, Cancer Biology, Center for Health Outcomes and Prevention, Sanford Applied Biosciences, and the National Institute for Athletic Health and Performance (NIAHP).

Tim Gerszewski
Sanford Media Strategist – Sioux Falls Region
(605) 366-2432 /
Follow me on Twitter @SanfordTimG