Regeneron Pharmaceuticals has entered into a research collaboration and option licencing agreement with Vyriad to discover and develop new oncolytic (cancer-killing) virus-based treatments for various forms of cancer.
Both firms will also sign a five-year research agreement to use Regeneron’s VelociSuite technologies to jointly design and validate Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV)-based oncolytic virus treatments.
Under the deal, the partnership will begin a phase 2 clinical study in 2020 to assess Regeneron’s PD-1 inhibitor Libtayo (cemiplimab-rwlc) in combination with Vyriad’s oncolytic virus Voyager-V1 in multiple types of cancer, including melanoma, lung, liver and endometrial cancers.
Libtayo is a fully-human monoclonal antibody that targets the immune checkpoint receptor PD-1 (programmed cell death protein-1). As part of a global collaboration agreement, Libtayo is being developed and commercialised by Regeneron and Sanofi.
Regeneron has used its VelocImmune technology to invent Libtayo. The technology uses a unique genetically-humanised mouse to produce optimised fully-human antibodies.
Vyriad’s investigational drug candidate Voyager-V1 is a potent VSV designed to selectively attack cancer cells and activate the immune system to destroy local and distant cancer cells.
Regeneron oncology clinical and translational sciences head and senior vice-president Dr Israel Lowy said: “Vyriad’s differentiated oncolytic virotherapy platform helps Regeneron continue to diversify our arsenal of immuno-oncology approaches, which include multiple combinations with our anti-PD-1 backbone, as well as novel delivery and re-targeting mechanisms.”
As per terms of the deal, Vyriad will secure an upfront payment, while Regeneron will make an equity investment in the company.
The deal also enables Regeneron to have an exclusive option to license Voyager-V1 and other collaboration products.
Vyriad is also provided with an option to receive additional payments based on the achievement of specified development and commercial milestones. In addition, Vyriad will receive royalties on net sales of potential future VSV-based collaboration products.
Vyriad president and CEO Stephen Russell said: “We are optimistic that the clinical combination of Voyager-V1 with Libtayo will result in effective anticancer activity, and we are very excited to join forces with Regeneron scientists to develop a new generation of precision targeted VSV therapies.”
In July this year, Regeneron and Sanofi have been given conditional approval by the European Commission (EC) for their fully-human monoclonal antibody Libtayo (cemiplimab) for the treatment of metastatic or locally advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC) in adults.