Roche has linked up with Inovio Pharmaceuticals to develop vaccines for prostate cancer and hepatitis B.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Swiss major will pay $10 million upfront, plus development and commercial milestones of up to $412.5 million for exclusive access to two of Inovio's DNA-based immunotherapies - INO-5150 for prostate cancer and INO-1800 for hepatitis B. The US firm is also entitled to up to double-digit tiered royalties.
The licensed compounds are currently in preclinical development “and have generated robust T-cell responses in animal models”, Inovio notes. It could be in line for more cash if Roche pursues other indications for the vaccines.
Hy Levitsky, head of cancer immunology experimental medicine at Roche, said that “we are always interested in finding first-in-class and best-in-class therapies that may become the next generation treatments for patients with different types of cancer. INO-5150 will allow promising combination opportunities with the Roche portfolio, particularly with our emerging cancer immunotherapy molecules”.
Backing for early use of Perjeta
Meantime, staffers at the US Food and Drug Administration have backed the use of Roche's breast cancer drug Perjeta (pertuzumab) for use in early stages of the disease.
Roche is seeking approval for Perjeta, which is currently available as a first-line treatment, in combination with Herceptin (trastuzumab) and the chemotherapy docetaxel for neoadjuvant (before surgery) use in patients with HER2-positive early-stage breast cancer. An advisory committee of the FDA, which granted the application a priority review, meets on Thursday (September 12).