Medigene has hit the acquisition trail to buy fellow German group Trianta Immunotherapies and its investigational T cell cancer vaccines.

Initially, shareholders of privately-held Trianta will get 4 million euros in Medigene stock plus potential future milestone payments in either stock or cash of up to 5.9 million euros. Trianta was spun off from the Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen (the German Research Centre for Environmental Health) only at the end of last year and "is at the forefront of personalised T cell immunotherapy" according to Medigene.

It has two dendritic cell vaccines in development and is conducting a Phase I/II trial in acute myeloid leukaemia, plus a Phase II trial in prostate cancer. Previous clinical compassionate use studies with Trianta’s DC-vaccines "have already provided encouraging data for safety and clinical benefits in several tumour types", the companies noted.

Medigene chief executive Frank Mathias said "this is a truly transforming acquisition" for the company, adding that "immunotherapy is regarded as the future of cancer therapy with exciting scientific breakthroughs and increasing interest of the pharmaceutical industry". He went on to say that "in this promising sector we have secured access to world-class science and innovative therapy platforms with programmess that are being evaluated in patients".

The Trianta team will be integrated into Medigene and its managing director, renowned immunology expert Dolores Schendel, will become chief scientific officer of the enlarged group. She stated that T cells activated by dendritic cells "are by nature the best weapons against cancer. The understanding of immune mechanisms has increased enormously over the last decade, and now our vision of activating T cells to effectively combat cancer is becoming a clinical reality".