Transgene acquires rights to cancer vaccine

pharmafile | September 10, 2010 | News story | Research and Development JX-594, Jennerex, Transgene, cancer vaccine 

French biotech company Transgene has acquired rights to commercialise a novel cancer vaccine that is being tested against multiple types of the disease.

Its deal with California biotherapeutics company Jennerex gives Transgene exclusive rights to develop JX-594 in Europe, the CIS and the Middle East.

JX-594, which could reach peak year sales of $1 billion, is a proprietary, engineered oncolytic virus that is designed to selectively target and destroy cancer cells.

Phase I and II clinical trials in multiple cancer types have shown that delivered directly into tumours, it can induce their shrinkage and/or necrosis.

Its developers also state that such objective tumour response has been demonstrated in a variety of cancers including liver, colon, kidney, lung and melanoma.

JX-594 is to join a recently increasing (and in some cases troubled) cancer vaccines marketplace which includes Merck Serono’s Stimuvax, Pfizer’s rindopepimut and ImmunoCellular Therapeutics’ ICT-107 among others.

Jennerex and Transgene’s development plan will initially focus on first and second line Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) – liver cancer – along with colorectal cancer.

San-Francisco based biotech Jennerex is set to receive milestone payments worth as much as $116 million, and be provided with a double digit percentage royalty on sales of JX-594 in return for Transgene’s marketing rights. They have an option for co-promotion and profit-sharing in the five major European countries and retain US rights to the drug.

“We are extremely pleased to have such a strong collaborative partner for JX-594.  Transgene is an ideal partner for this product given their expertise in oncology and in the development of virus-based immunotherapeutic products. We look forward to working together with our new partners to realise the full potential of this innovative product,” said David Kirn, president and chief executive officer of Jennerex.

Philippe Archinard, chairman and chief executive of Transgene, stated: “This partnership agreement fits perfectly our three pillar based development strategy and is an exciting addition to our pipeline of immunotherapy products, further contributing to its maturity. With a time to market in Europe forecast for 2015 and a European market potential of over $1bn, JX-594 has the capacity to provide us with a very substantial return on our investment, should the product meet all of its milestones.”

Archinard adds: “From a financial perspective, this investment in JX-594 is included in our five year plan and is consistent with our goal to market our first product by 2015 without additional fund raising. Together with Jennerex, we will work to advance JX-594 in order to offer this important new treatment option to cancer patients in Europe and surrounding countries.”

Transgene has Novartis as its marketing partner for its own lung cancer vaccine TG 4010, which is currently poised to begin phase IIb/III trials and, like JX-594, is anticipated to be developed for a number of cancers.

Brett Wells

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