Australian immuno-oncology company Imugene Ltd., announced that it would acquire Vaxinia Pty Ltd and separately acquire a worldwide exclusive license to a promising oncolytic virus technology, known as CF33, developed at City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and treatment centre for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases based in Los Angeles, California.
CF33 is a chimeric vaccinia poxvirus from the lab of Professor Yuman Fong, Chair of Surgery at City of Hope, and a noted expert in the oncolytic virus field.
Oncolytic viruses (OVs) are designed to both selectively kill tumour cells and activate the immune system against cancer cells, with the potential to improve clinical response and survival.
OVs have the potential to transform oncology by directly causing tumour cell death, and also by delivering a potent payload in a targeted fashion that activates the immune system.
Imugene’s CEO, Ms Leslie Chong said
“we are delighted to be able to licence such a promising next generation oncolytic virus in a competitive market place where big pharma companies are actively seeking OV technologies. CF33 comes with robust intellectual property and long patent life, compelling pre-clinical efficacy and safety, and is anticipated to enter a Phase 1 clinical trial in 2020.”
OVs are attracting the serious attention of big pharma companies such as Merck, Boehringer Ingelheim and Janssen which have made three acquisitions in 2018 alone totalling over $1.0 billion, including former ASX-listed company Viralytics.
“Further, the opportunity to separately engage with members of the ex-Viralytics team through Vaxinia was cogent for Imugene, and brings to Imugene senior executives with direct involvement in two of thelargest OV transactions in biotech history being Amgen’s acquisition of Biovex for USD$950 million and Merck’s acquisition of Viralytics for A$502 million,”
Ms Chong added.
A Phase 1 clinical trial in 30 patients with advanced solid tumors is expected to commence in 2020 across a number of US cancer centres.