BIOVEST INTERNATIONAL INC (BVTI) - Description of business

Company Description
In this annual report on Form 10-K, unless the context indicates otherwise, references to “Accentia,” “the Company,” “our company,” “we,” “us,” and similar references refer to Accentia Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. and its subsidiaries. All references to years in this Form 10-K, unless otherwise noted, refer to our fiscal years, which end on September 30. For example, a reference to “2006” or “fiscal 2006” means the 12-month period ended September 30, 2006. Overview We are a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of late-stage, targeted therapeutic clinical products in the areas of respiratory disease and, through our majority-owned publicly-traded subsidiary, Biovest International Inc., oncology. We have two products with fast-track status in Phase 3 clinical trials. Our first such product candidate, SinuNase™, is being developed as a treatment for chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS), also commonly referred to as chronic sinusitis, which is a chronic inflammatory condition of the paranasal sinuses that results in nasal congestion, facial pain and pressure, nasal discharge, and headaches. SinuNase is an amphotericin B suspension that is self-administered into a patient’s nasal cavity for the treatment of CRS. If approved by the FDA, we expect that SinuNase would be the first pharmaceutical product indicated for the treatment of chronic sinusitis. We submitted an Investigational New Drug Application, or IND, with the FDA for SinuNase in April 2005 and we have recently commenced the first of two Phase 3 clinical trials for SinuNase for patients who have recurrent CRS. Our second product candidate, BiovaxID™, under development by our subsidiary, Biovest International Inc., a publicly held company in which we currently hold approximately 78% of the outstanding capital stock (“Biovest”) is a patient-specific anti-cancer vaccine focusing on the treatment of follicular non-Hodgkins lymphoma, or follicular NHL. Follicular NHL is a cancer of the lymphatic system that results when the body’s follicle center cells, which are a type of white blood cell, become abnormal and eventually spread throughout the body growing and dividing in an uncontrolled fashion. BiovaxID is a customized anti-cancer vaccine that is derived from a patient’s own cancer cells and is designed to utilize the power of the patient’s immune system to recognize and destroy cancerous lymphoma cells while sparing normal cells. We produce this vaccine by extracting the patient’s tumor cells and then replicating and purifying the unique antigen that is present only on the surface of the patient’s own tumor cells. Biovest is currently conducting a pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial for BiovaxID in patients with the indolent, or low-grade, form of B-cell follicular NHL. We are a vertically-integrated commercial enterprise with demonstrated competencies in the identification, development, regulatory approval, pricing, reimbursement, managed care contracting, manufacturing, and sales and marketing of biopharmaceuticals and medical devices. We currently market respiratory products through our Accentia Pharmaceuticals division, which has a dedicated specialty sales force. Our pharmaceutical product consulting business provides a broad range of services, including product candidate selection, outcomes research on the economic profiles of pharmaceuticals and biologics, pricing and market assessment on these products, reimbursement strategies and various services designed to expedite clinical trials to companies and institutions in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical markets as well as for our internal use. Our instrument business manufactures equipment used in the production of cells and other biologics based on the hollow-fiber production method and includes our newly introduced automated instrument, AutovaxID. We were incorporated in Florida in 2002. Our principal executive offices are located at 324 South Hyde Park Avenue, Suite 350, Tampa, Florida 33606. Our telephone number at that address is (813) 864-2554. Our Internet website address is, and all of our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission are available free of charge on our website. Any information that is included on or linked to our Internet site is not a part of this annual report on Form 10-K. Our Business Strategy Our goal is to acquire, develop, and commercialize innovative late-stage biopharmaceutical products that offer the potential for superior efficacy and safety as compared to competitive products and that address significant unmet medical needs. To achieve this goal, the key elements of our strategy include:   •   Completing clinical development and obtaining regulatory approval for SinuNase and BiovaxID . We intend to complete our Phase 3 clinical trials for SinuNase and BiovaxID and to aggressively pursue regulatory approvals for both products.   •   Identifying and acquiring additional late-stage clinical products and technologies . We intend to pursue the acquisition of additional late-stage products that could increase the value of our development pipeline and complement our existing products and product candidates. This may consist of product acquisition, in-licensing, or company acquisitions. We intend to screen product opportunities and focus on products for which substantial clinical evidence of safety and efficacy has already been demonstrated. We also intend to screen potential product opportunities based on their regulatory pathways, pharmacoeconomic profiles and their payor reimbursement prospects. Although our primary emphasis in acquiring new products will be in the respiratory and oncology therapeutic areas, we will consider products in other therapeutic areas if they satisfy our screening criteria.   •   Leveraging our broad range of internal capabilities to support our ongoing development and commercialization efforts . We believe that our broad range of in-house service capabilities provides a strong platform on which to develop new biopharmaceutical products. We plan to leverage our specialty pharmaceutical business, pharmaceutical product consulting business and biologics production capabilities to pursue, attract, screen, and develop new therapies to increase the size of our development pipeline and commercialize our products.   •   Pursuing strategic relationships on a selective basis for product development or distribution . We may from time to time consider entering into strategic relationships with third-parties in order to facilitate the development of new products and to market and distribute our approved products. Such strategic relationships could be in the form of licensing, distribution arrangements, or joint ventures. In some cases, the acquisition of new products could be effected through the acquisition or licensing of individual products or technologies or the acquisition of an entire business. We evaluate on a continuing basis, and as appropriate, adjust, our business strategy as discussed above in light of market conditions and other relevant factors such as available financing, opportunities for strategic relationships, and changes impacting our current and future products and product candidates. SinuNase We are developing a product for the treatment of chronic rhinosinusitis or CRS based on an intranasal formulation of amphotericin B, and we intend to market and sell this product under the name SinuNase. Rhinosinusitis is an inflammatory condition of the paranasal sinuses, which are air cavities within the facial bones that are lined by mucus. Rhinosinusitis occurs when the mucus membrane in the nose and the paranasal sinuses become inflamed and swell, thereby blocking the nasal passage or limiting drainage from the sinuses into the nose and throat and causing pressure and pain in the sinuses. Rhinosinusitis results in a variety of symptoms, including nasal congestion, facial pain and pressure, nasal discharge, and headaches. Rhinosinusitis is generally categorized into two types: acute rhinosinusitis, which is a temporary short-term condition commonly associated with colds and other viral infections, and chronic rhinosinusitis, which is an ongoing condition that lasts for three or more months but often continues for years. The FDA has advised us, and we concur, that chronic sinusitis or CS should be considered to be the indication for SinuNase rather than CRS, although there is a growing belief in the medical community that the terms are interchangeable. SinuNase is an intranasal antifungal suspension formulated for the treatment of CRS. SinuNase’s active ingredient is amphotericin B, which is an antifungal medication currently used as an intravenous formulation to treat a wide variety of systemic fungal infections. As a result of research and studies performed at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, it has been discovered that a hypersensitivity to airborne molds plays a significant role in CRS and that the condition can be substantially relieved using an intranasal application of low-dose antifungals. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (“MAYO”) has been issued a U.S. patent relating to this treatment method and has filed a European counterpart patent application for the therapy. Our rights to SinuNase are based on a license agreement with MAYO which gives us the exclusive worldwide right to commercialize MAYO’s patented CRS treatment method using the antifungal amphotericin B. Although Mayo Foundation’s clinical trials on its CRS therapy were based on the use of amphotericin B, MAYO’s patents and patent applications with respect to the therapy broadly apply to the topical application of any antifungals for the treatment of CRS. In December 2005, we entered into an option agreement with MAYO giving us the exclusive right until December 2006 (which has since been extended to December 2007), without obligation, to seek to negotiate a license for all antifungals in addition to Amphotericin B. In the event that we are not successful in negotiating such additional licenses, MAYO is not precluded from licensing to third-parties, including potential competitors, the use of antifungals other than amphotericin B for the treatment of CRS. If MAYO grants such a license to a third-party, and if the use of such other antifungal is shown to have an efficacy and safety profile that equals or exceeds that of amphotericin B for treatment of CRS, we may not be able to commercialize or generate revenue from SinuNase and our business, financial condition, and results of operations could be adversely affected. Market Opportunity Rhinosinusitis is one of the most commonly reported chronic diseases in the U.S., affecting an estimated 14% of the population. Approximately 31 million Americans suffer from rhinosinusitis every year, and an estimated 90% of all rhinosinusitis cases are chronic. According to the March 1999 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, overall health care expenditures attributable to rhinosinusitis were estimated to be $5.8 billion in direct costs during 1996. A primary diagnosis of acute bacterial rhinosinusitis or chronic rhinosinusitis accounted for 58.7% of all expenditures, or $3.5 billion, for 1996. CRS also results in indirect costs for Americans, such as greater than 70 million lost activity days and reduced social and physical functioning. As set forth in the December 2004 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, at least 30 million courses of antibiotics are prescribed each year for CRS, and it is one of the leading forms of chronic disease. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimated that, during a 12-month period ending in 2000, CRS accounted for 9.2 million primary care office visits, 1.1 million surgical specialty office visits, 951,000 medical specialty office visits, 1.3 million outpatient department hospital visits, and 693,000 emergency department visits. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services also estimates that approximately 500,000 people resorted to sinus surgery in 1996. Causes and Treatment of CRS Currently, there is no FDA-approved therapy for CRS. The lack of an effective treatment for CRS has historically been due to an inability of the medical community to identify the underlying cause of the condition. Due to lack of knowledge regarding the cause of CRS, most treatment methods for CRS have focused only on the symptoms of the disease. As a result of studies begun by Mayo Clinic, researchers have discovered that airborne fungi play a major role in triggering CRS. Like pollen, fungi are present in the air in every region of the world, and Mayo Clinic’s studies have demonstrated that fungi are normally present in the mucus of the nasal passages and the sinuses of most everyone, including those without CRS. Mayo Clinic’s research has also shown that, in patients with CRS, the production of certain key mediators that mediate the inflammation in CRS result from an abnormal immune system response to certain airborne fungi. In CRS patients, the presence of this normally innocuous fungi in the mucus triggers an immune response that results in the activation of esonophils, which are immune cells that are predominantly involved in the body’s defense against parasites and foreign organisms. In the mucus, the activation of esonophils triggers an immune defense response and leads to a release of highly destructive and toxic defensive proteins. One such protein is eosinophilic major basic protein, or MBP, which is a substance that attacks fungi but also severely damages the nasal and sinus membrane tissue. Over time, this damage typically leads to inflammation, modification, and blockage of the nasal and sinus drainage passages, as well as polyps and small growths in the nasal passage and the sinuses. Because the damaged tissue is vulnerable to invasion by bacteria and viruses, this damage can also lead to secondary infections. Prior to the research done at Mayo Clinic, the presence of fungi in the nasal mucus of CRS patients was theorized but largely undetected due to the unavailability of effective and accurate methods to detect the presence of the fungi. A study published by Mayo Clinic in 2002 described a new technique for detecting the fungi in mucus, and using this technique, researchers found that 96% of patients with CRS had fungi in their mucus. These results were confirmed in a European study that was published in 2003 in Laryngoscope by the American Laryngological, Rhinological and Otological Society, which reported that the presence of fungal organisms in both healthy and CRS patients was demonstrated by positive fungal cultures in 91% of individuals in each group. A study by the University of Mainz in Germany published in 2004 in the American Journal of Rhinology reported that fungal DNA was detected in 100% of mucus samples from CRS patients. Historically, the treatment of CRS has largely focused on the use of antibiotics, intranasal or orally administered corticosteroids, and sinus surgery. While antibiotics are useful in treating the acute exacerbations that result from the bacterial invasion of the damaged paranasal tissue of CRS patients, no antibiotic has proven effective in eradicating the underlying cause of CRS. Intranasal and orally administered corticosteroids, which are potent anti-inflammatory hormones, have been used to reduce the inflammation and immune response that play a role in CRS, but oral corticosteroids can cause serious side effects and must be avoided or cautiously used with patients that have certain conditions, such as gastrointestinal ulcers, renal disease, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, and intestinal disease. Surgery is frequently used in CRS patients to improve the drainage of their sinuses based on the assumption that the disease can be reversed by identifying and correcting the obstruction associated with the condition, but while such surgery usually offers temporary relief of symptoms, studies have shown that it is typically not curative. Clinical Studies on Amphotericin B Therapy In several published studies, an intranasal administration of amphotericin B has been shown to reduce paranasal inflammation in CRS patients by suppressing the population of fungi in the nasal cavity and mucus, thereby reducing or preventing the immune system response that causes CRS. The following is an overview of the studies that were referenced in our IND as submitted to the FDA: Study    Nature of Study    Number of Patients    Results 2002 Mayo Clinic Study    •       Open label study •       Twice daily intranasal application of 20 millimeters of amphotericin B in each nstril •       Formulation: 100 micrograms of amphotericin B per milliliter of solution    51    •       75% demonstrated improvement in sinus symptoms. •       35% demonstrated elimination of signs of paranasal inflammation (endoscopic evaluation). •       39% showed improvement of at least one disease stage (endoscopic evaluation) 2002 Geneva University Study    •       Open label study •       Four weeks of twice daily of 20 millimeters of amphotericin B in each nostril •       Formulation: 100 micrograms of amphotericin B per milliliter suspension    74    •       48% of patients with stage I or II nasal polyposis had complete disappearance of nasal polyposis. 2004 Mayo Clinic Study    •       Double blind, randomized placebo controlled study •       Twice daily intranasal applications of a 20 milliliter solution with a concentration of 250 micrograms of amphotericin B per milliliter    24    •       Statistically significant reduction in mucosal inflammation and reduction in inflammatory markers. 2002 Mayo Clinic Study . In this prospective open label clinical trial conducted at Mayo Clinic and published in 2002 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 51 patients were given a twice daily intranasal application of an amphotericin B solution in each nostril in the amount of 20 milliliters per application per nostril. Generally, in an open label trial, both the researchers and participants know the drug and dosage that the participant is taking. The concentration of the administered solution was 100 micrograms of amphotericin B per milliliter of solution. The study reported that the therapy resulted in symptom improvement and a reduction in nasal obstruction and discharge, as assessed by endoscopic evaluation and/or CT scan. In this study, patients received the intranasal amphotericin B solution for 3 to 17 months (at an average of 11.3 months), and following a three-month or longer treatment course, improvement in nasal obstruction and nasal discharge symptoms was demonstrated in 38 of 51 of patients, or 75%, as demonstrated by a patient questionnaire. Endoscopic evaluation found 18 of 51 patients, or 35%, to be free from signs of paranasal inflammation at the conclusion of the trial, and an additional 20 patients, or 39%, had improvement of at least one disease stage. CT scans were available for 13 patients and demonstrated significant reduction in nasal mucosal thickening and occlusion of the paranasal sinuses. 2002 Geneva University Study . In this prospective open label study conducted by Geneva University in Switzerland and published in 2002 in the Journal of Laryngology & Otology, 74 patients were administered four weeks of twice daily intranasal application of an amphotericin B suspension. The dosage regimen and amphotericin B concentration used in this study were the same as in the open label Mayo Clinic study. The endpoint of the study was a determination of whether there was complete disappearance of nasal polyposis after endoscopic examination. Of the 74 patients in the study, prior to treatment, 13 had stage I, 48 had stage II, and 13 had stage III of nasal polyposis. Following four weeks of treatment with amphotericin B, the number of patients with stage I, II, and III of the disease was 5, 21, and 13, respectively. This represented a complete disappearance of nasal polyposis in 48% of the combined number of patients with stages I or II of the disease, although none of the patients with stage III of the disease experienced a complete disappearance. Partial disappearance of nasal polyposis or other improvements in condition were not a part of the reported outcomes in this study. 2004 Mayo Clinic Study . In this double blind study of 24 patients conducted at Mayo Clinic and published in the January 2004 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, amphotericin B was shown to be effective in decreasing mucosal thickening associated with CRS. Generally, in a double blind trial, neither the subjects of the study nor the researchers know the drug, dosage, or other critical aspects of the study in order to guard against bias and the effects of the placebo. In this study, the patients were given twice daily intranasal applications of a 20 milliliter solution with a concentration of 250 micrograms of amphotericin B per milliliter. The primary outcome measure, which was a reduction in mucosal thickening measured by CT scan, was statistically significant at six months with an approximate 9% reduction in mucosal thickening in patients treated with amphotericin B versus a slight worsening of mucosal thickening in placebo-treated patients. Endoscopic evaluation of the patients demonstrated statistically significant improvement at three and six months. Eosinophil-derived neurotoxin and other markers of inflammation were decreased in the mucus of patients treated with the amphotericin B. Development Status We submitted an IND with the FDA for SinuNase in April 2005, and the IND was accepted by the FDA in May 2005. In April 2006, the FDA granted our SinuNase trial Fast Track status. In calendar year 2006, we commenced the first of two Phase 3 clinical trials for SinuNase. Each of these trials is expected to enroll enough patients to allow 300 patients to be randomized 1:1 between treatment arm and placebo control arm. Our primary endpoint for these studies is patient reported outcomes measuring the resolution of cardinal symptoms associated with severe post-surgical CRS and secondary endpoints including nasal endoscopy and CT scan of the sinuses. We anticipate that the SinuNase NDA will be filed as a 505(b) (2) application, which is a type of NDA that will enable us to rely in part on the FDA’s previous findings of safety and efficacy for an oral suspension of amphotericin B and on previously published clinical studies of intranasal amphotericin B for CRS. Our initial IND for SinuNase is for an amphotericin B suspension that is self-administered by squirting the antifungal suspension from a plastic applicator through each nostril in order to bathe the nasal cavity. We expect to subsequently file a supplement to the IND to add a second product consisting of an encochleated version of the amphotericin B. Encochleation is a proprietary process in which a phospholipid, a phosphorous-containing fatty acid, is used as an excipient, an inert additive used as a drug delivery vehicle, to extend the shelf-life of the product in an aqueous, or water-based, medium. We anticipate that the encochleated version of SinuNase, if successfully developed and approved, will be administered with a pump spray and will be indicated for maintenance treatments in patients whose CRS is less severe. The encochleated version of the product is being developed by us under a license agreement with BioDelivery Sciences International, Inc., or BDSI, under which we have been granted exclusive worldwide rights to BDSI’s encochleation technology for amphotericin B used in CRS and asthma treatments. Even though SinuNase is not approved by the FDA for treatment of CRS, based on available research and scientific articles, a number of physicians currently prescribe a compounded formulation of amphotericin B solution to treat CRS. Our representatives educate physicians about Mayo Clinic’s research and studies relating to the causes and potential treatment methods for CRS, and the availability of compounding services. These compounded formulations are custom-produced solutions made by pharmacists for individual patients and their needs because commercially available dosage forms are not available. While we are not permitted to market SinuNase unless and until the therapy is approved by the FDA, we currently sublicense our rights to the compounded variant of the therapy to compounding pharmacies in exchange for a royalty. However, if SinuNase is approved by the FDA, these sublicenses will terminate, and compounding pharmacies will be unable to compound copies of the approved solution without individual medical need for a compounded variation, such as substitution of an inactive ingredient to which a patient is allergic. Proprietary Rights Our rights to SinuNase are based on a license agreement with MAYO. Our license agreement with MAYO gives us the exclusive worldwide right to commercialize MAYO’s patented CRS treatment method using the antifungal amphotericin B. Although MAYO’s clinical trials on its CRS therapy were based on the use of amphotericin B, MAYO’s patents and patent applications with respect to the therapy broadly apply to the topical application of any antifungals for the treatment of CRS. In December 2005, we entered into an Option Agreement with MAYO giving us the exclusive right until December 2006 (which has since been extended to December 2007), without obligation, to seek to negotiate a license for all antifungals in addition to amphotericin B. In the event that we are not successful in negotiating such additional licenses, MAYO is not precluded from licensing to third-parties, including potential competitors, the use of antifungals other than amphotericin B for the treatment of CRS. If MAYO grants such a license to a third-party, and if the use of such other antifungal is shown to have an efficacy and safety profile that equals or exceeds that of amphotericin B for this application, we may not be able to commercialize or generate revenue from SinuNase and our business, financial condition, and results of operations could be adversely affected. We hold an exclusive license to market and sell products made from amphotericin B based on MAYO’s patented treatment method for CRS. Although amphotericin B has not been approved by the FDA for the treatment of CRS, a number of physicians currently prescribe a compounded formulation of amphotericin B solution for their CRS patients. These formulations are prepared by compounding pharmacies that are in the business of preparing custom-made solutions using FDA-approved active ingredients. While we have sublicensed our rights to the compounded variant of the product to compounding pharmacies, we are aware that other compounding pharmacies may be preparing similar compounded formulations in violation of one or more claims of our licensed patents. Because these patent violations may be sporadic and dispersed, we may not be able to easily identify the violations. In addition, because the patents that we license from MAYO relate to a method of treating CRS, if other amphotericin B solutions become commercially available for other indications, we may not be able to prevent physicians from prescribing such other solutions for CRS on an off-label basis. Such actions could hinder our ability to generate enough revenue to justify development costs and to achieve or maintain profitability. Sales, Marketing, and Manufacturing If the FDA approves SinuNase for the initial indication of recurrence of CRS after sinus surgery, we anticipate that we may market and sell the product through our own sales force directly to otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat surgeons) who are treating CRS patients and potentially through third-party sales and marketing relationships. There are approximately 10,500 ear, nose, and throat specialists in the U.S., and we currently market other products to these specialists. Additionally, we may seek to establish marketing relationships with third-parties. We anticipate that the labeling for SinuNase will be indicated specifically for “chronic sinusitis,” which is a more widely used name for the condition than “chronic rhinosinusitis.” We anticipate that the initial SinuNase suspension will be self-administered by patients, who will use a single-dose, packet of ingredients to be mixed by the patient with sterile water and then administered by the patient into the nasal cavity through each nostril. We have selected the third-party contract manufacturer to produce the product for our clinical trials. BiovaxID BiovaxID is an injectable patient-specific vaccine that we are developing to treat the follicular form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or NHL. We acquired our rights for BiovaxID through a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with National Cancer Institute (NCI). BiovaxID is a customized immunotherapy that is derived from a patient’s own cancer cells and is designed to utilize the power of each patient’s immune system to recognize and destroy cancerous lymphoma cells while sparing normal cells. BiovaxID is currently undergoing a pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial with patients diagnosed with the indolent follicular form of B-cell NHL. BiovaxID is being developed by Biovest, our publicly held, majority-owned subsidiary. The Human Immune System The immune system is the body’s natural defense mechanism for recognizing and combating viruses, bacteria, cancer cells, and other disease-causing organisms. The primary disease fighting functions of the immune system is carried out by white blood cells. In response to the presence of disease, white blood cells can mediate two types of immune responses, referred to as innate immunity and adaptive immunity. Innate immunity refers to a broad, first line of immune defense that occurs as a part of an individual’s natural biological makeup. Adaptive immunity, on the other hand, is specifically generated by a person’s immune system throughout the person’s lifetime as he or she is exposed to particular pathogens, which are agents such as bacteria or other microorganisms that cause disease. In contrast to the broad but unspecific response of innate immunity, the adaptive immune response generates a highly specific, long-lasting, and powerful protection from repeated infection by the same pathogen. This adaptive immune response facilitates the use of preventative vaccines that protect against viral and bacterial infections such as measles, polio, diphtheria, and tetanus. Adaptive immunity is mediated by a subset of white blood cells called lymphocytes, which are divided into two types: B-cells and T-cells. In the bloodstream, B-cells and T-cells recognize molecules known as antigens, which are proteins or other substances that are capable of triggering a response in the immune system. Antigens include toxins, bacteria, foreign blood cells, and the cells of transplanted organs. When a B-cell recognizes a specific antigen, it secretes proteins, known as antibodies, which in turn bind to a target containing that antigen and tag it for destruction by other white blood cells. When a T-cell recognizes an antigen, it either promotes the activation of other white blood cells or initiates destruction of the target cells directly. A person’s B-cells and T-cells can collectively recognize a wide variety of antigens, but each individual B-cell or T-cell will recognize only one specific antigen. Consequently, in each person’s bloodstream, only a relatively few lymphocytes will recognize the same antigen. In the case of cancer, cancer cells produce molecules known as tumor-associated antigens, which may or may not be present in normal cells but may be over-produced in cancer cells. T-cells and B-cells have receptors on their surfaces that enable them to recognize the tumor associated antigens. While cancer cells may naturally trigger a T-cell-based immune response during the initial appearance of the disease, the immune system response may not be sufficiently robust to eradicate the cancer. The human body has developed numerous immune suppression mechanisms to prevent the immune system from destroying the body’s normal tissues, and because all cancer cells are originally normal tissue cells, they are often able to aberrantly exploit these mechanisms to suppress the body’s immune response, which would normally destroy them. Even with an activated immune system, the number and size of tumors can overwhelm the immune system. In the case of cancer and other diseases, immunotherapies are designed to utilize a person’s immune system in an attempt to combat the disease. There are two forms of immunotherapy used to treat diseases: passive and active. Passive immunotherapy is exemplified by the intravenous infusion into a patient of antibodies specific to the particular antigen, and while passive immunotherapies have shown clinical benefits in some cancers, they require repeated infusions and can cause the destruction of normal cells in addition to cancer cells. An active immunotherapy, on the other hand, generates an adaptive immune response by introducing an antigen into a patient, often in combination with other components that can enhance an immune response to the antigen. Although active immunotherapeutics have been successful in preventing many infectious diseases, their ability to combat cancers of various types has been limited by a variety of factors, including the inability of tumor antigens to elicit an effective immune response, difficulty in identifying suitable target tumor antigens, inability to manufacture tumor antigens in sufficiently pure form, and inability to manufacture sufficient quantities of tumor antigens. Nevertheless, there are many active immunotherapeutics for cancer in the late stages of clinical trials, and some are demonstrating encouraging results. There are two features of B-cell follicular NHL that make it a particularly attractive form of cancer for treatment with an active immunotherapeutic approach. First, the malignant B-cell lymphocytes in follicular NHL have a unique, identifiable tumor-specific antigen domain that is expressed on the surface of each and every cancerous B-cell in a particular patient and not expressed on any other cells. This is in contrast to other solid cancer tumors, such as prostate, pancreatic, or lung carcinomas, which have a heterogeneous expression of different kinds of antigens on their cell surfaces and for which identification and inclusion of all tumor-specific antigens is very challenging. Second, in cases of relapse after conventional treatment, the malignant B-cells in follicular NHL represent the original cancerous clone. Consequently, the cancer cells that survive treatment of NHL seem to always represent tumor cells with the same antigen idiotype as the original tumor. An idiotype consists of the characteristics of an antigen that make it unique. In follicular NHL patients, the idiotype antigen protein expressed on the tumor cell’s surface is not functioning as an antigen because of its failure to elicit a sufficient immune response to the presence of the tumor cells, and the goal of our BiovaxID active immunotherapy is to trigger the body’s immune system to recognize such protein as an antigen by introducing a purified version of the idiotype antigen, modified by conjugation to a foreign carrier protein, into the patient’s system in conjunction with an immune system stimulant, as described more specifically below. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma NHL is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is a part of the immune system and serves as the body’s primary blood filtering and disease fighting tissue. In NHL, specific cells in the lymphatic system become abnormal and multiply in an uncontrolled manner, outliving their normal programmed lifespan, and spreading through the body. NHL can occur in both B-cells and T-cells. NHL is the sixth most common cancer and the sixth leading cause of death among cancers in the U.S. Approximately 85% of diagnosed cases of NHL are in the form of B-cell NHL, while 15% are T-cell NHL. There are approximately 55,000 new cases of NHL diagnosed each year in the U.S. with a comparable number estimated in Europe, and an estimated 12,500 of the U.S. cases each year are a type of B-cell NHL known as indolent follicular NHL. Our IND and Phase 3 clinical trial for BiovaxID are for indolent follicular NHL. NHL is usually classified for clinical purposes as being either “indolent” or “aggressive,” depending on how quickly the cancer cells are likely to grow and spread. The indolent, or slow-growing, form of NHL has a very slow growth rate and may need little or no treatment for months or possibly years. Aggressive, or fast-growing, NHL tends to grow and spread quickly and cause severe symptoms. Indolent and aggressive NHL each constitute approximately half of all newly diagnosed B-cell NHL, and roughly half of the indolent B-cell NHL is follicular NHL. Follicular NHL is a form of NHL that is derived from a type of cell known as a follicle center cell. Despite the slow progression of indolent B-cell NHL, the disease is almost invariably fatal. According to the American Cancer Society, the median survival time from diagnosis for patients with indolent B-cell NHL having stage III or IV follicular B-cell NHL is between seven and ten years. Unlike indolent B-cell NHL, approximately 30-60% of aggressive B-cell NHL cases are cured by standard chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is widely used as a first line of treatment for NHL. Although chemotherapy can substantially reduce the tumor mass and in most cases achieve a clinical remission, the remissions are generally short-lived. Indolent B-cell NHL patients generally relapse within a few months or years of initial treatment, and the cancer usually becomes increasingly resistant to further chemotherapy treatments. Eventually, the patient’s response to therapy is so brief and weak that further chemotherapy would offer no clinical benefit. A number of passive immunotherapies, such as Rituxan, Bexxar, and other monoclonal antibodies, are approved by the FDA for the treatment of indolent B-cell follicular lymphoma. These therapies have been used as primary treatment and also as part of combination treatment including chemotherapy. A monoclonal antibody is a type of antibody produced in large quantity that is specific to an antigen that is expressed by tumor cells but may also be expressed by at least some normal cells. These NHL antibody therapies target an antigen that all B-cell lymphocytes, both normal and cancerous, have on their surface. As such, the effects of therapy include a temporary reduction in normal B-cell lymphocytes, which can predispose patients to the risk of infection. Generally, these therapies alone have failed to provide unlimited remissions for most patients, and their cost and side-effects are often significant. Moreover, as passively administered antibodies, they do not elicit a sustained immune response to tumor cells. Nevertheless, some recent studies suggest that sustained remissions might be possible with the use of these passive immunotherapies at or near the time of initial diagnosis, either alone or in combination with chemotherapy, and we do not believe that the use of passive and active immunotherapeutics are necessarily mutually exclusive. Rituxan is used in approximately 85% of all new cases of NHL per year, and U.S. sales of Rituxan exceeded $1.8 billion in 2005. Development of Patient-Specific Vaccine for NHL During the late 1980s, physicians at Stanford University began development of an active immunotherapy for the treatment of indolent B-cell NHL, and the work was thereafter continued by Dr. Larry Kwak and his colleagues at the NCI. In 1996, the NCI began a Phase 1 clinical trial and selected our Biovest subsidiary to produce the vaccine for the trial. In 2001, Biovest entered into CRADA, with the NCI under which we jointly conducted the Phase 3 clinical trial pursuant to the Investigational New Drug application, or IND, which had been filed by the NCI in 1994. In April 2004, sponsorship of the IND was formally transferred from the NCI to us and in November 2006 the CRADA terminated. Studies have shown that treatment with an active immunotherapy should allow a patient’s own immune system to produce both B-cells and T-cells that recognize numerous portions of the tumor antigen and generate clinically significant immune responses. These studies have been published in the October 22, 1992 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine , the May 1, 1997 issue of Blood , and the October 1999 issue of Nature Medicine . With respect to follicular NHL and other cancers, tumor cells remaining in the patient after completion of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are the cause of tumor relapse. These residual tumor cells cannot be detected by imaging, but their destruction may be feasible by active immunotherapy. With a patient-specific active vaccine, patients receive their own tumor idiotype, as the vaccine is customized for the tumor target of the individual patient. Repeated vaccination with such a tumor vaccine provides the patient’s immune system with an additional opportunity to be effectively activated by the tumor cell itself. Our research has focused on the indolent form of follicular NHL, which accounts for about 90% of newly diagnosed cases of follicular NHL. In about 40-70% of the indolent cases, there is transformation of the indolent form to a more aggressive lymphoma, such as large-cell follicular NHL. This transformation is typically an early event in the course of the disease, usually occurring before the sixth year after diagnosis, and it is mainly observed in patients with known adverse prognostic factors. It is the goal of BiovaxID to intervene in the transformation process by treating newly diagnosed patients in their first clinical remission with the hope of inducing indefinitely prolonged remission and thereby eliminating the possibility of transformation to a more aggressive form of the disease. BiovaxID Treatment and Production Process BiovaxID is designed to utilize the power of each patient’s immune system and cause it to recognize and destroy cancerous lymphoma B-cells while sparing normal B-cells. Typically, all of a patient’s cancerous B-cells are replicate clones of a single malignant B-cell, and, accordingly, all of a patient’s cancerous B-cells express the same surface antigen idiotype which is absent from non-cancerous cells. BiovaxID is designed to use the patient’s own antigen idiotype from the patient’s tumor cells to direct the patient’s immune system to mount a targeted immune response against the tumor cells. In general, the therapy seeks to accomplish this result through the extraction of tumor cells from the patient, the culturing and growing of a cell culture that secrets idiotype proteins found in the patient’s tumor cells, the production and enhancement of a purified version of the cancer idiotype antigen, and the injection of the resulting vaccine into the patient. By introducing a highly-concentrated purified version of the cancer antigen into the patient’s system, the vaccine is designed to trigger the immune system to mount a more robust response to the specific antigen, in contrast to the comparatively weak and insufficient pre-vaccination response. Because the antigen is specific to the cancerous B-cells and not found on normal B-cells, the immune response should target the cancerous B-cells for destruction and not cause harm to the normal cells. The BiovaxID production and treatment process begins when a sample of the patient’s tumor is extracted by a biopsy performed by the treating physician at the time of diagnosis, and the sample is shipped refrigerated to our manufacturing facility in Worcester, Massachusetts. At our manufacturing facility, we identify the antigen idiotype that is expressed on the surface of the patient’s tumor cells through laboratory analysis. The patient’s tumor cells are then fused with an exclusively licensed laboratory cell line from Stanford University to create a hybridoma. A hybridoma is a hybrid cell resulting from the fusion of a patient tumor cell and a murine/human heterohybridoma myeloma cell, which is an antibody-secreting cell created from a fused mouse and human cell. The purpose of creating a hybridoma is to create a cell that secretes antibody proteins bearing the same idiotype or antigen as the patient’s tumor cells. The hybridoma cell can be used to produce the vaccine because the tumor-specific antigen expressed on the surface of the patient’s tumor cells is itself an antibody. After the creation of the hybridoma, we determine which hybridoma cells display the same antigen idiotype as the patient’s tumor cells, and those cells are selected to produce the vaccine. The selected hybridoma cells are then seeded into our hollow fiber bioreactors, where they are cultured and where they secrete an antibody bearing the same idiotype antigen as the patient’s tumor cells. The secreted antigens are then collected from the cells growing on the hollow fibers. After a sufficient amount of antigen is collected for the production of an appropriate amount of the vaccine, the patient’s antigen idiotype is purified using an affinity chromatography column. Affinity chromatography is a technique used to separate and purify a biological molecule from a mixture by passing the mixture through a column containing a substance to which the biological molecule binds. The resulting purified idiotype antigen is then conjugated, or joined together, with keyhole limpet hemocyanin, or KLH, to create the vaccine. KLH is a foreign carrier protein that is used to improve the immunogenicity, or ability to evoke an immune response, of the tumor-specific antigen. The vaccine is then frozen and shipped to the treating physician. At the treating physician’s office, the vaccine is thawed and injected into the patient as an antigen. We expect that the initial vaccination will typically commence six months after the patient enters clinical remission following chemotherapy. The vaccine is administered in conjunction with GM-CSF, a natural immune system growth factor that is administered with an antigen to stimulate the immune system and increase the response to the antigen. The patient is administered five monthly injections of the vaccine in the amount of  1 / 2 milligram of vaccine per injection, with the injections being given over a six-month period of time in which the fifth month is skipped. Through this process, the patient-specific antigens are used to stimulate the patient’s immune system into targeting and destroying B-cells bearing the same antigen idiotype. To our knowledge, BiovaxID is the only NHL vaccine currently in development under an IND that is produced through a hybridoma process. The hybridoma process is different from the recombinant processes being used by other companies that are currently developing an active idiotype immunotherapeutic for NHL. In the recombinant process, the patient’s own tumor cells are not fused with lymphocytes, but instead the vaccine is produced by introducing genetic material bearing certain portions (known as the variable light and variable heavy chains) of the tumor-derived idiotype protein into mammalian or insect cells. Whereas the hybridoma method will produce high-fidelity copies of the antigen that, through clonal reproduction, exactly replicates the original gene sequences of the tumor specific idiotype of the parent tumor cell, the recombinant method gives rise to protein products that have combinations of gene sequences different from those of the patient’s tumor. We use a method known as “hollow-fiber perfusion” to produce the cell cultures used in the manufacture of BiovaxID. Hollow-fiber perfusion, as compared to other cell culture methods, seeks to grow cells to higher densities more closely approaching the density of cells naturally occurring in body tissue. The hollow-fiber perfusion method involves using hair-like plastic fibers with hollow centers which are intended to simulate human capillaries. Thousands of these fibers are inserted in a cartridge, which we refer to as a bioreactor. The cells are grown on the outside of the hollow fibers while nutrient media used to support cell growth is delivered through the hollow centers of the fibers. The fiber walls have small pores, allowing nutrients to pass from the hollow center to the cells. The fibers act as filters and yield concentrated secreted products. Because the cells are immobilized in the bioreactor, the concentrated product can be harvested during the ongoing cell growth process. We believe that hollow-fiber technology permits the harvests of cell culture products with generally higher purities than stirred-tank fermentation, a common alternative cell culture method, thereby reducing the cost of purification as compared to stirred tank fermentation. Additionally, the technology associated with the hollow-fiber process generally minimizes the amount of costly nutrient media required for cell growth as opposed to other cell culturing techniques. We believe that our vaccine’s anti-tumor effect could exceed that of non-targeted traditional therapy, such as chemotherapy, as our therapy arises from the immune system’s defense cells’ innate ability to selectively target tumor antigen while not attacking the normal healthy B-cells. The immune response triggered by our vaccine against the cancerous tissue is a natural disease-fighting mechanism without causing the side-effects associated with chemotherapy and radiation used to traditionally treat NHL. We also believe that our vaccine’s effectiveness could exceed that of passive immunotherapies, such as Rituxan, Bexar, and other monoclonal antibodies. Unlike BiovaxID, these therapies do not target the unique antigen idiotype that is found on the surface of the patient’s tumor cells. Instead, they target an antigen that is common to all B-cells, known as the CD-20 antigen, which results in the undesirable destruction of normal B-cells. Manufacture of BiovaxID We manufacture BiovaxID at Biovest’s own manufacturing facility in Worcester, Massachusetts. If we receive FDA approval of the vaccine, we may continue to manufacture the vaccine at our existing facility in Worcester, although we will likely need to develop additional facilities or utilize third-party contract manufacturers to fully support commercial production for the U.S. markets. To penetrate markets outside of the U.S., we may enter into agreements such as collaborations with well-established companies that have the capabilities to produce the product, licenses, joint ventures or other arrangements to produce and/or market the product in such countries. To facilitate commercial production of the vaccine, we are developing proprietary manufacturing equipment, for which we have filed “AutovaxID ™ ” as a trademark. AutovaxID integrates and automates various stages of vaccine production. We believe that the AutovaxID system will reduce the space and staff currently required for production of the vaccine. We are also planning to commercially manufacture and sell AutovaxID instruments. Because we use KLH in the BiovaxID manufacturing process, we have entered into a supply agreement with BioSyn Arzneimittel GmbH, or BioSyn, to supply us with KLH. Under this agreement, BioSyn is obligated to use commercially reasonable efforts to fulfill all of our orders of KLH, subject to certain annual minimum orders by us. However, BioSyn does not have a specific obligation to supply us with the amounts of KLH currently being supplied and necessary for our current clinical trial purposes or for commercialization. The supply agreement specifies a purchase price for the KLH and also provides for a one-time licensing fee payable by us in installments. The agreement expires in December 2007 but will automatically renew for unlimited successive terms of five years each unless we provide notice of termination to BioSyn at least six months before the expiration of any term. The agreement can be terminated prior to expiration by either party upon the winding-up or receivership of the other party or upon a default that remains uncured for 60 days. Also, the agreement can be terminated by BioSyn if we cease to develop BiovaxID. Development Status In April 2004, the NCI formally transferred sponsorship of the IND for BiovaxID to our Biovest subsidiary, which gives Biovest the right to communicate and negotiate with the FDA relating to the approval of BiovaxID and to conduct the clinical trials for the vaccine. BiovaxID is in a pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial which was started in January 2000 by the NCI. In November 2006, we terminated our CRADA with the NCI to continue the Phase 3 clinical trial of BiovaxID with a new principal investigator, primary clinical trial site, and Data Monitoring Committee outside of the NCI, as further described in the section titled “Proprietary Rights to BiovaxID” below. As of September 30, 2006, there were 17 clinical sites and 216 patients enrolled in the clinical trial. The following summarizes the results and status of our ongoing, recently completed, and currently planned clinical trials for BiovaxID as of September 30, 2006: Trial / Indication   Clinical Phase   Study Design   No. of Patients Treated with BiovaxID or Control   Median Time-to-Disease Progression   Status Trial No. BV301 Indolent follicular B-cell NHL patients in first complete remission following chemotherapy; 5 immunizations over 24 weeks   Phase 3   Randomized, double blind with KLH-treated control group   375 planned   Treatment phase in progress   Enrolling patients to treatment phase; 216 have been enrolled (164 of which had been randomized to receive BiovaxID or control) Trial No. T93-0164 Indolent follicular B-cell NHL patients in first complete remission following chemotherapy; 5 immunizations over 24 weeks   Phase 2   Open label, single arm   20   Follow-up period exceeded 9 years as of September 2006: 45% of patients were disease free at that time and 95% of patients were alive at that time   Treatment phase completed; patients in long-term follow-up The objective of our Phase 3 clinical study is to measure the efficacy of the active idiotype vaccination in regard to prolongation of the period of disease-free survival when compared to treatment with a control vaccine consisting solely of KLH in patients with B-cell indolent follicular NHL. The patients being treated under this protocol have been diagnosed with previously untreated Stage 2 with bulky adenopathy or 3-4 follicular NHL, Grades I-IIIa, which are the indolent slowly progressing forms of the disease that historically have been incurable. PACE chemotherapy (prednisone, doxorubicin, cytoxan and etoposide) is administered until patients achieve their best response, which is a minimum of six cycles over six to eight months. Those patients achieving a complete remission are then randomized to receive vaccination with either BiovaxID or the KLH control in a 2:1 ratio, respectively. Of the 375 patients who will be in a complete remission (CR/CRu) after chermotherapy in the BV301 study, 250 patients are scheduled to be randomly selected, or randomized, for the BiovaxID treatment arm, and 125 are scheduled to be randomized to the control arm, KLH-KLH. Of the 250 patients who are scheduled to be randomized to the BiovaxID treatment arm, we estimate that approximately one third have completed the series of vaccinations and are in the follow-up phase of the trial. The patients being treated with BiovaxID have received or are receiving a series of five subcutaneous injections of the therapeutic vaccine administered over a six-month period. Each vaccination is accompanied by a series of four injections of GM-CSF. After a six-month waiting period while the patient’s immune system reconstitutes, the patient initiates the vaccination series. The primary endpoint is a comparison between treatment groups of the median duration of disease-free survival measured from the time of randomization to the point of confirmed relapse. Data from the trial are reviewed periodically (at least annually) by an independent safety data monitoring board, and at the June 2006 meeting of this board, no safety concerns regarding the trial were identified. We are seeking to complete enrollment for our Phase 3 clinical trial by the fourth quarter of 2008. To complete enrollment in that timeframe, we will need to continue our efforts to significantly increase the rate at which we are currently enrolling patients. To accomplish our desired rate of enrollment, we have already activated various clinical sites in Russia and will initiate sites in Ukraine as well. The first patients were enrolled from those countries in November 2006. Furthermore, the Rituxan-based regimen, CHOP-R may be added to the current protocol as an additional choice of induction chemotherapy next to PACE by the end of 2006. This might allow the addition of U.S. sites and increase in the overall patient accrual. The implementation of CHOP-R would increase the desired overall randomization number of 375 to 540. Following the completion of enrollment, we will continue to monitor the participating patients and analyze resulting data. At such time that an interim analysis of the data confirms a statistically significant difference between the active and control groups in relation to our clinical endpoint, the data will be assembled for submission of a Biologics License Application requesting the FDA’s approval for commercialization of BiovaxID. The time it takes to reach the clinical endpoint following the completion of enrollment, which may take several years, will depend on a variety of factors, including the relative efficacy of the vaccine, the magnitude of the impact of the vaccine on time-to-tumor progression, drop-out rates of clinical trial patients, and the median follow-up time subsequent to administration of vaccine or control. The objective of the NCI’s Phase 2 clinical investigation was to study the ability of an idiotype vaccine to elicit tumor-specific T-cell immunity in follicular B-cell NHL patients, as measured by the ability of the patient’s T-cells to specifically destroy their own tumor cells in vitro and to exert anti-tumor effects as measured by the elimination of cells from the peripheral blood of a uniform group of patients. In this study conducted by the NCI, 20 patients who had achieved complete remission following chemotherapy received a series of five BiovaxID and GM-CSF injections over a six-month period. Of the 20 patients, 11 had a molecular marker in their lymphoma cells considered a hallmark of follicular NHL. As assessed by clearance of this marker from their blood, eight of these 11 patients (73%) totally cleared all residual tumor cells post vaccination (molecular remission). The molecular remission was sustained for as long as the patients were followed, for a median follow-up of 18 months, with a range of eight to 32 months. In the Phase 2 study, 75% of the patients treated with BiovaxID developed antibodies to their individual tumor cells and 95% developed T-cell immune responses specific for the patient’s NHL idiotype. At an interim study assessment, 18 of 20 patients remained in continuous complete remission for a median 42 months, with a range of 28 to 52 months. After long-term follow-up at nine years post vaccination, as reported by the NCI in 2005 to the American Society of Hematology, 19 of 20 patients remained alive, and 9 of 20 patients remained in complete continuous remission. In October 2006, we were granted orphan drug designation for BiovaxID by the EMEA (European Medicines Agency). This designation is intended to promote the development of products that may offer therapeutic benefits for diseases affecting less than five in 10,000 people in the European Union (EU). The Commission of the European Union entered BiovaxID into the European Community’s Drug Register for Rare Diseases. Orphan drug designation provides opportunities for free protocol assistance, fee reductions for access to the centralized community procedures before and after marketing authorization, and 10 years of market exclusivity following drug approval. The EMEA represents 25 EU countries, including France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. We had previously applied to the FDA for orphan drug designation for the use of BiovaxID for the treatment of certain forms of follicular B-cell NHL, but the FDA has determined that BiovaxID is ineligible for orphan drug designation in the absence of further information and clarification. We have no plans to further pursue this designation with the FDA at this time. In May 2006, we were granted fast-track designation for BiovaxID by the FDA. Fast-Track is a formal mechanism to interact with the FDA using approaches that are available to all applicants for marketing applications. The benefits of Fast-Track include scheduled meetings to seek FDA input into development plans, the option of submitting a NDA in sections rather than all components simultaneously, and the option of requesting evaluation of studies using surrogate endpoints. The Fast-Track designation is intended for the combination of a product and a claim that addresses an unmet medical need, but is independent of Priority Review and Accelerated Approval. An applicant may use any or all of the components of Fast-Track without the formal designation. Fast-Track designation does not necessarily lead to a Priority Review or Accelerated Approval.