Virttu Biologics Limited, a UK-based company specialising in oncolytic viruses, has launched an open-innovation platform, REPLICATE, to promote engagement and collaboration with industry and academic researchers worldwide in the development of new oncology combination therapies.

It will do so by providing access to data on, and insights into, the use of oncoviruses in cancer as well as to the company’s lead product candidate, SEPREHVIR (HSV1716) – an engineered variant of Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) 1 that infects and replicates in cancer cells selectively.

Virttu has developed a proprietary viral engineering system (SEPREHVEC) to generate novel HSV viruses that contain additional genes to enhance their properties.

Phase I/II studies with SEPREHVIR in a number of solid-tumour indications have established safety in humans and “reported efficacy signals”, the Glasgow-based company noted.

Virttu is currently pursuing Phase I and Phase II clinical trials with SEPREHVIR in high-grade glioma, hepatocellular carcinoma and mesothelioma.

Secure environment

Participants in the web-based Virttu REPLICATE Open Innovation Forum will be able to exchange information privately with Virttu in a secure environment.

If the two parties enter into a collaborative project, each will maintain its own intellectual property, as governed by a standard Material Transfer Agreement.

Data from specific collaborations will remain confidential to the parties involved, unless there is mutual agreement to release the data to the public.

The stated aims of the REPLICATE programme are to:

•    Encourage the dissemination and optimisation of data from combining SEPREHVIR with other treatment modalities for the treatment of cancer.           

•    Promote the use of oncovirus and drug combinations.                  

•    Accelerate the identification of virus/drug combinations that may have a meaningful clinical effect.                                  

•    Provide biotechnology companies with broader validation of their approach more quickly and cost-effectively than they could achieve individually.

Information portal

The REPLICATE web site is designed as a portal for dissemination of public-domain information available to all registered site visitors, while also providing a “virtual meeting place” for REPLICATE members to share information securely on their research with SEPREHVIR and other oncolytic viruses.

:“In recent years”, noted Virttu chief executive officer Steven Powell, “we have been approached regularly by research groups interested in investigating the use of SEPREHVIR in oncology indications, either as a monotherapy or in combination with other treatment modalities.”