Transgene announce key partnership with Merck KGaA and Pfizer

pharmafile | October 12, 2016 | News story | Research and Development Cancer, France, Merck Group, Pfizer, Transgene, avelumab, head, neck 

Transgene, a company that designs and developed targeted immunotherapies to treat cancer and infectious diseases, has announced a collaboration agreement with Merck KGaA and Pfizer. The agreement will see Transgene sponsor a Phase 1/2 evaluating the potential of therapeutic vaccine candidate TG4001 in combination with avelumab, an investigational fully human anti-PD-L1 lgG1 monoclonal antibody, for the treatment of human papilloma virus positive head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. This treatment could potentially be used after the failure of standard therapy.

The combination of the two drugs, TG4001 and avelumab, has been chosen to target two distinct steps in the immune response to specifically target cancer cells. TG4001 has been developed by Transgene while avelumab is an immunotherapy treatment co-developed by both Merck KGaA and Pfizer.

Prof. Christophe Le Tourneau, Head of the Early Phase Program at Institut Curie and the Principal Investigator of the Phase 1/2 study commented that: “HPV-induced head and neck cancers are currently treated with the same regimen as non-HPV-positive HNSCC tumours. However, their different etiology clearly suggests that differentiated treatment approaches are needed for HPV-positive patients. Immunotherapy, and in particular the therapeutic vaccine TG4001 together with the PD-L1 blocker avelumab, by targeting two distinct steps in the immune response, could deliver improved efficacy for patients who have not responded to or have progressed after a first line of treatment.”

The trial is expected to begin in France in the first half of 2017. They will begin by recruiting patients with recurrent and/or metastastic virus-positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma and have been through standard treatment. 

Ben Hargreaves

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