Amgen has joined the immunotherapy partnering frenzy. The Big Biotech is signing up with the little biotech Advaxis, collaborating on its technology using bioengineered bacteria to recruit a T cell attack on cancer.
Amgen $AMGN is paying $65 million upfront to get the deal kickstarted, with $25 million reserved for an equity stake in the company. Amgen is also adding $475 million in milestones for the deal as it picks up development responsibilities after Advaxis $ADXS is done with its proof-of-concept work for the still preclinical program for ADXS-NEO.
Shares of Advaxis soared 28% on the power pact.
Advaxis work is based on engineering live attenuated Listeria monocytogenes. By sequencing a patient’s cancer cells, along with normal cells, investigators will search for neo-antigens in cancer cells that can be targeted with specifically designed vectors. As such, the tech represents one of the new immunotherapy fronts in the R&D war on cancer, which has been consuming billions of dollars in research money in pursuit of new blockbusters.
“After the ADXS-NEO infusion, neoepitope peptides corresponding to each patient’s cancer-associated mutations are delivered directly into their antigen presenting cells by Lm-LLO, where they can stimulate cellular immune responses against multiple neoepitopes simultaneously,” notes Advaxis’ statement on the deal.
Clinical trials for ADXS-NEO are expected to begin in 2017.
“With Amgen’s resources, worldwide reach and a culture that embraces science and innovation, we are positioned to accelerate the clinical development program for ADXS-NEO to improve the lives of those who suffer from cancer,” said Advaxis CEO Daniel J. O’Connor.
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