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Research into the importance of dendritic cells in the treatment of cancer dates back to 2000. A team of scientists led by Professor Jiřina Bartůňková and Professor Radek Špíšek at the Department of Immunology of the Second Faculty of Medicine at Charles University in Prague and the Motol University Hospital in Prague continued previous research efforts of the team led by Professor Ralph M. Steinman as well as other teams of scientists.
They have jointly developed a new treatment method using active cellular immunotherapy based on dendritic cells. The Motol team completed both laboratory (pre-clinical) trials and Phase I clinical trials while fulfilling all requirements stipulated by national, as well as international legislation for cellular therapy. The team focused on prostate and ovarian cancers as primary therapy indications.
Further clinical trials could not continue in the academic environment due to significant costs. At this stage, the Motol scientists joined forces with investors with a goal of building a biotechnology company that would continue clinical development of the DCVAC-based medical products and would bring them to the market.
As a result, SOTIO was founded in 2010 and started preparations for Phase II clinical trials of the SOTIO® DCVAC – based products intended for patients with prostate, ovarian and lung cancer. At the same time, the required SOTIO manufacturing facility with clean laboratory premises was built. The laboratories, which rank among the biggest of this type in Europe, started operating in 2011.
The first Phase II clinical trials started in 2012. At the end of that year, PPF Group acquired SOTIO and is now its majority owner.
In 2011 and 2012, SOTIO opened its offices in China, USA and Russia. In 2014, the company opened the SOTIO manufacturing facility in Beijing to produce the SOTIO DCVAC products for trials in China.
Over the past few years, the company, which initially focused on research and development of active cellular immunotherapy, has grown to become a biotechnology business with a wide range of activities. SOTIO now covers all biotech activities of PPF Group. A side from its own research and development, SOTIO seeks to partner with other companies and institutions that develop promising cancer therapies, aiming to collaborate through license agreements, investments, mergers and acquisitions.
SOTIO is currently testing the safety and efficacy of the SOTIO DCVAC cell therapy platform in various solid tumours (lung, ovarian, prostate) through multiple Phase I to Phase III clinical trials. A pivotal Phase III global clinical trial investigating DCVAC/PCa in prostate cancer patients was launched in 2014.
In 2019 SOTIO initiated a first-in-human Phase I/Ib clinical trial with SO-C101, an interleukin-15 superagonist. The study will evaluate the safety and preliminary efficacy of SO-C101 as monotherapy and in combination with pembrolizumab in patients with selected advanced/metastatic solid tumors. The company is also planning clinical studies for other promising treatments.
SOTIO is also responsible for pre-clinical and clinical development in collaborations with other biotech companies including Cytune Pharma (France), NBE-Therapeutics (Switzerland) and Max Planck Innovation & Lead Discovery Center (Germany).