Roche, Inovio partner to advance immunotherapies

Agreement covers immunotherapies for prostate cancer and hepatitis B

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BASEL, Switzerland—Roche has entered into an exclusiveworldwide license agreement with Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for the research,development and commercialization of Inovio's highly optimized, multi-antigenDNA immunotherapies for prostate cancer and hepatitis B.
Per the terms of the agreement, Roche will pay Inovio $10million up front, and will also provide preclinical research and developmentsupport. Inovio will be eligible for near-term regulatory milestone payments aswell as development and commercialization milestones, for a potential total ofup to $412.5 million. Inovio could receive additional development milestonepayments if Roche decides to pursue INO-5150 or INO-1800, the licensedcompounds, in additional indications. Inovio will also receive up todouble-digit tiered royalties on sales of products resulting form thisagreement. The companies will collaborate to further develop the licensedcompounds. Roche has also gained an option to license additional vaccineopportunities related to a collaborative research program in oncology.
"This partnership represents an important milestone inInovio's growth and maturing product portfolio. Roche brings to ourimmunotherapy candidates its leadership position and track record fordeveloping and marketing innovative first-in-class therapies," Dr. J. JosephKim, president and CEO at Inovio, commented in a statement. "Collaborating withthe world's preeminent oncology development partner allows us to rapidlyadvance two of our promising near-clinical stage immunotherapy products fromour product pipeline as we continue development of our Phase II lead product,VGX-3100, for treatment of HPV-related cancers and dysplasia."
Roche's license includes INO-5150 and INO-1800, DNA-basedvaccines that are both in preclinical development, as well as the use ofCELLECTRA, Inovio's electroporation technology for the delivery of vaccines.INO-5150 is a dual-antigen synthetic DNA vaccine that targets prostate-specificmembrane antigen and prostate-specific antigen to treat prostate cancer.INO-1800, geared toward the treatment of hepatitis B, has demonstratedpreclinical potential to treat hepatitis B infection. In addition todemonstrating a killing function, the vaccine-specific T-cells also showed theability to migrate to the liver and remain there, clearing target cells. Inpreclinical work, both compounds have demonstrated robust T-cell responses inanimal models.
"At Roche we are always interested in finding first-in-classand best-in-class therapies that may become the next generation treatments forpatients with different types of cancer. INO-5150 will allow promisingcombination opportunities with the Roche portfolio, particularly with ouremerging cancer immunotherapy molecules," Hy Levitsky, head of CancerImmunology Experimental Medicine at Roche, said in a press release regardingthe license agreement.
"We are very excited to have this potentially very importantand novel mechanism of action as part of our portfolio as we seek to addressthe significant unmet medical need in chronic hepatitis B infection," saidJanet Hammond, head of Infectious Diseases Discovery & Translational Areaat Roche.
SOURCE: Inovio press release

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