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Tocagen - 511 + FC

Posted by Artem Kotenko


“Ryan and his team at ideaMACHINE created a brief animation video to help explain how our cancer-fighting virus is designed to work. They did a fantastic job and we have had excellent feedback from a wide range of people. Images from the video were selected for the front cover of Science Translational Medicine, a leading medical journal, to accompany our first clinical manuscript.” 
        - Nicholas A. Boyle, Ph.D. Vice President, Business Development and Marketing


Explaining a complex, multistage pharmaceutical approach may not always be easy. But our water color style whiteboard animation for Tocagen took a complicated process, and broke it down to a simple idea that anyone can understand.

Tocagen is a clinical-stage, cancer-selective gene therapy company focused on developing first-in-class, broadly applicable product candidates designed to activate a patient's immune system against their own cancer from within. The animation we made explaining their product was part of a greater story introducing their product, experience, and company to the world.

Their new trial drug, 511 + FC, is the cover story of this month's Science Translational Magazine:



Check out their press release that dives in a bit deeper on this potential medical breakthrough, and see a personal story on how this drug is bettering the lives of cancer patients:

Extended Survival for Brain Cancer Patients

Running time: 2:17


Tocagen is developing broadly applicable, cancer selective immunotherapy treatments for cancer. Including high grade glyoma, a type of brain cancer. 

The companies lead product combines Toca 511 with Taca FC. The therapeutic regiment involves 2 discrete steps: with Toca 511 given first, followed by treatment given with Toca FC.

During the first step, the patient receives Toca 511, by injection. Toca 511 is a replicating virus that effects actively dividing cells. In normal adult tissue where most cells are not actively dividing, Toca 511 is further limited by the immune system. 

In contrast, cancer cells are actively dividing and having defective immune responses, providing a safe heaven for Toca 511. Toca 511 delivers a gene for an enzyme called cytosine deaminase, or CD for short, to cancer cells. 

As it spreads through the tumor by budding and cell-to-cell contact, Toca 511 programs cancer cells to make CD. These cancer cells are now primed for the Toca FC step.

Patients then take a pill called Toca FC. Within infected cancer cells CD converts Toca FC in a potent FDA approved anti-cancer drug called 5-FU, which kills cancer cells. 

5-FU also kills MDSCs , which are cells that help tumors avoid the immune system. The immune system is further activated by tumor associated antigens, and viral proteins released from dying cancer cells. 

As a result, immune cells are activated selectively against cancer cells. This approach selectively destroys cancer cells within the body, while leaving healthy cells unharmed. 

Patients take multiple cycles of Toca FC repeating the sequence of events which may ultimately result in tumor destruction.

Tocagen believes no one should dye of cancer.