Transgene and AstraZeneca has announced plans to enter into a collaboration and exclusive license option agreement for Transgene’s innovative viral platform Invir.IO based armed oncolytic immunotherapies.

The French biotech company will help AstraZeneca to co-develop five armed oncolytic vaccinia virus candidates.

Under the terms of the agreement Transgene is to receive $10 million upon signing and additional pre-clinical success milestones of up to $3 million, and is also eligible to receive an option exercise payment on each candidate in the event AstraZeneca exercises its license option, as well as development and commercial milestones and royalties.

AstraZeneca will select the transgenes to be encoded within the virus and will be responsible for further in-vivo pre-clinical development and, subject to option exercise, clinical development and commercialisation of these novel oncolytic immunotherapies.

Commenting on the agreement, Jean-Charles Soria, senior vice president, Research & Development Oncology at AstraZeneca, said: “Oncolytic viruses have the potential to be transformational in oncology by directly causing tumor cell death, and also by delivering a potent payload in a targeted fashion that increases innate and adaptive immune system stimulation. AstraZeneca has an exciting portfolio of molecules that we believe may augment oncolytic virus activity.

Transgene has been a leader in the development of vaccinia viruses for many years, and this collaboration will allow us to leverage their platform in the development of novel immunotherapies.”

The deal marks the second for AstraZeneca in as many months, having recently entered a multi-billion dollar oncology deal with Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo.