AstraZeneca signs cancer vaccine pact with Inovio

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AstraZeneca’s biologics R&D arm MedImmune has bagged the rights to a cancer vaccine developed by Inovio Pharmaceuticals.

The immunotherapy at the heart of the deal is codenamed INO-3112 which targets cancers caused by human papillomavirus types 16 and 18. It is currently in Phase I/II trials for cervical, and head and neck cancers.

AstraZeneca says it will study the compound in combination with selected immunotherapy molecules in its pipeline of HPV-driven cancers. Cashwise, it will pay $27.5 million upfront and potential future payments could reach up to $700 million.

The two companies will also develop up to two additional DNA-based cancer vaccine products. David Berman, head of the oncology innovative medicines unit at MedImmune, said “the unique combination of our broad immuno-oncology portfolio with Inovio’s T-cell- activating INO-3112, which enhances cancer specific killer T-cells, has the potential to deliver real clinical benefits”.

The Inovio deal was unveiled days after AstraZeneca inked immuno-oncology collaborations with Sosei subsidiary Heptares and Mirati.