Oxford BioMedica says that it has reached the first development milestone in its collaboration with Sanofi-Aventis for the cancer vaccine TroVax, which has triggered a payment of 9 million euros for the UK firm.

The milestone relates to the successful enrolment of 350 patients in the Phase III TRIST study of TroVax in renal cancer and that figure represents half of the anticipated 700 patients to be enrolled into the trial.

Under the terms of the Sanofi deal, which was signed in March, Oxford BioMedica received an initial payment of 29 million euros and this latest cash injection is part of a potential 19 million euros it could receive in near-term milestone payments linked to the TRIST study. In total, the company could receive 518 million euros if TroVax gets approved and proves to be successful on the market.

Sanofi and Oxford BioMedica are co-funding the TRIST study, recruitment for which is expected to be completed in the first quarter, and the France-headquartered drugmaker will fund all other R&D, regulatory and commercialisation activities. The UK firm retains an option to co-promote TroVax in the USA and the European Union.

Steady set of financials

The Sanofi deal proved to be the main reason for Oxford BioMedica’s revenues rising from £208,000 to £2 million for the first half of 2007, while net loss rose 6.9% to £9.3 million. The firm’s R&D spend rose 13.7% to £10.8 million and operating costs climbed 22.2% to £13.2 million, due to increased staff costs and the integration of Oxxon Therapeutics, which was acquired for £16 million in March.

Oxford BioMedica chief executive Alan Kingsman said that the firm had made “excellent progress”, claiming that the Sanofi link-up “validates our development strategy for TroVax and the product’s potential commercial value”. On top of the TRIST study, he noted that Sanofi is now planning to start a Phase III trial in colorectal cancer and that the first clinical trial of ProSavin in Parkinson’s disease should begin soon. “We are on track with the regulatory process for this study,” Prof Kingsman concluded.