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MedImmune and Inovio collaborate on cancer vaccine

Published on 11/08/15 at 10:40am
MedImmune building
MedImmune has recently signed several oncology R&D collaborations

MedImmune has entered into a license agreement and collaboration with Inovio, a biotechnology company developing DNA-based immunotherapies for cancer and infectious diseases.

Under the terms of the agreement, MedImmune will pay San Diego-based Inovio $27.5 million upfront, with potential future milestone payments of up to $700 million if new treatments developed in the partnership reach development and commercial milestones. 

The deal will give AstraZeneca, MedImmune’s parent company, exclusive rights to Inovio’s INO-3112 immunotherapy. INO-3112 targets cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18, which are responsible for more than 70% of cervical pre-cancers and cancers. The immunotherapy, which is currently in Phase I/II clinical trials for cervical and head and neck cancers, works by generating killer T-cell responses that are able to destroy HPV 16- and 18-driven tumours. 

MedImmune will study INO-3112 in combination with selected immunotherapy molecules within its own pipeline in HPV-driven cancers. There is emerging evidence that the benefits from immuno-oncology molecules, including those in MedImmune’s portfolio, can be enhanced when used in combination with cancer vaccines that generate tumour-specific T-cells.

Inovio is entitled to up to double-digit tiered royalties on INO-3112 sales. MedImmune will fund all development costs. As part of the collaboration, MedImmune and Inovio will also develop up to two additional DNA-based cancer vaccine products not included in Inovio’s current product pipeline, which MedImmune will have the exclusive rights to develop and commercialise.

Inovio will receive development, regulatory and commercialisation milestone payments as well as royalties on worldwide net sales for these additional cancer vaccine products. 

This latest immune-oncology collaboration announcement from Medimmune follows another MedImmune deal with Mirati for a lung cancer combination trial, as AstraZeneca looks to replenish its portfolio amidst the patent expiry of some of its top selling drugs.

David Berman, senior vice president and head of the oncology innovative medicines unit at MedImmune, says: “Today’s collaboration with Inovio leverages our deep internal expertise in the use of vaccines to drive antigen-specific T-cell responses. 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 for patients.”

J Joseph Kim, president and chief executive at Inovio, comments: “Our licensing partnership with MedImmune represents an important step in executing our immuno-oncology combination strategy and advancing Inovio’s cancer vaccine R&D pipeline with a leading cancer immunotherapy company. INO-3112 is progressing, with positive interim data generated in an Inovio-initiated Phase I study. We appreciate MedImmune’s recognition of our ability to activate best-in-class killer T-cells in vivo and look forward to working with them on this collaboration.”

The new agreement builds on the existing partnership between Inovio and MedImmune on two research and development collaborations in the infectious disease area, focused on Ebola, influenza, and bacterial infections. 

Joel Levy

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