The struggles of cancer vaccines have been well documented, but drugmakers have taken to the silver lining offered up last year by Johan Vansteenkiste of Belgium University Hospitals. While presenting a late-stage flop last October, Vansteenkiste offered up the idea of combining cancer vaccines with checkpoint inhibitors for increased efficacy. Now, AstraZeneca is the latest to strike a cancer vaccines partnership.Inovio CEO J. Joseph Kim
The London-based pharma's MedImmune unit on Monday announced a development deal worth up to $727 million--$27 million upfront--to acquire exclusive rights to Inovio Pharmaceuticals' ($INO) HPV cancer vaccine INO-3112 and to develop additional cancer vaccine candidates.
The deal follows a series of agreements for AstraZeneca ($AZN) as it works to advance its checkpoint inhibitor durvalumab and will see it use INO-3112 in conjunction with its own HPV-driven cancer molecules. For Inovio, the deal "represents an important step in executing our immuno-oncology combination strategy and advancing Inovio's cancer vaccine R&D pipeline with a leading cancer immunotherapy company," CEO J. Joseph Kim said in a statement.
INO-3112, which targets cancers caused by human papillomavirus types 16 and 18, is in Phase I/II trials for cervical and head and neck cancers, targeting tumors by generating killer T-cell responses. HPV types 16 and 18 are responsible for more than 70% of cervical cancers, according to Inovio.
Monday's announcement is only the latest in a spree of cancer vaccines partnerships as pharma and biotech seek out the benefits of cancer vaccines partnered with other treatments. Last October, Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Aduro ($ADRO) signed a partnership potentially worth more than $1 billion to work with the biotech's GVAX on several types of cancer. And in March, Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) wagered up to $1 billion to work with Bavarian Nordic's prostate cancer vaccine Prostvac.
The collaborations are just one factor expected to grow the cancer vaccines field at a CAGR of 27% through 2019, a report recently predicted.
- here's the release