Roche and Amgen will work together on a Phase Ib study looking at the safety and efficacy of combining their respective immunotherapies atezolizumab and T-VEC in patients with triple-negative breast cancer and colorectal cancer with liver metastases.

T-VEC (talimogene laherparepvec) is an investigational oncolytic immunotherapy which selectively replicates only in tumours to kick off an immune response targeting cancer cells. Atezolizumab (formerly MPDL3280A) is an investigational monoclonal antibody designed to interfere with the PD-L1 protein to help activate T cells.

The firms are hoping that these differing modes of action will illicit a more powerful response and thus prove more effective than either agent alone.

Specific terms of the deal were not revealed.

The news comes just a couple of days after Amgen announced that it is also coupling T-VEC with Merck & Co’s Keytruda to investigate the combination’s potential benefit in head and neck cancer.