- German pharma company Boehringer Ingelheim on Wednesday inked a collaboration deal with the small, Austria-based ViraTherapeutics to jointly develop an oncolytic virus therapy and related technology.
- The agreement gives Boehringer, which has previously invested in ViraTherapeutics through its venture arm, the right to acquire the company following conclusion of Phase 1 testing. Total deal value could reach as high as €210 million ($235 million).
- ViraTherapeutics will be responsible for preclinical work and initial clinical testing of its lead candidate VSV-GP, both as a monotherapy and in combination with other treatments.
Boehringer, which is better known for its respiratory, cardiovascular and diabetes treatments, markets two treatments for lung cancer: Gilotrif (afatinib) and Vargatef (nintedanib). Gilotrif is approved in the U.S. for advanced non-small cell lung cancer and squamous cell carcinoma of the lung.
Boehringer is also developing another drug for treatment of EGFR+ lung cancer and hopes to win first approvals sometime in 2017.
ViraTherapuetics' research into oncolytic virus technology was advanced through funding from EMBL Ventures and Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund. While the research is still in early-stage, Boehringer hopes the technology may offer an alternative approach to boosting the body's immune response to cancer.
"Oncolytic viruses are among the most promising new therapy approaches in cancer research and the technology developed by ViraTherapeutics may offer significant advantages compared to others currently under development," said Michel Pairet, a member of Boehringer's board of managing directors, in a statement.
Boehringer has shed some of its assets in the cancer space recently. In a deal with Amgen announced at the beginning of September, Boehringer out-licensed global development and commercial rights to a bispecific immuno-oncology drug in development for treatment of multiple myeloma.
ViraTherapeutics, a private company with only 14 employees, got its start in 2013 as a spin-out from the Medical University of Innsbruck.