More recently, Novartis and Opexa Therapeutics (OPXA) inked a deal giving Novartis control of Opexa’s stem cell program, including its Tovaxin MS therapy. Tovaxin is a personalized T-cell vaccine for relapsing remitting MS prepared by expanding specific subsets of myelin-reactive T-cells. Attenuated cells are reintroduced with a goal of setting up an anti-idiotype network to shift a TH1 mediated response to a Th2 response.
In 2008, the TERMS phase II study suggested the strong possibility of a therapeutic response similar to that seen with current platform therapies and with no significant side effects. Initiation of a phase III study in relapsing remitting MS is likely by early next year and will serve as a much bigger catalyst for Opexa than for Novartis.