AstraZeneca enters strategic collaboration with Transgene to develop innovative oncolytic virus immunotherapies

2 May 2019

AstraZeneca today announced a research collaboration and exclusive licencing agreement to co-develop five engineered oncolytic vaccinia virus candidates with Transgene, a French biotech company focused on developing virus-based immunotherapies for cancer and infectious diseases. Innovative immunotherapies developed through this collaboration will use Transgene’s next-generation viral platform.

Oncolytic viruses are designed to both selectively kill tumour cells and activate the immune system against cancer cells, with the potential to improve clinical response and survival when used in conjunction with Immuno-Oncology (IO) treatments in AstraZeneca’s pipeline.

Jean-Charles Soria, Senior Vice President, Oncology R&D, said: “Oncolytic viruses have the potential to be transformational in oncology by directly causing tumour cell death, and also by delivering a potent payload in a targeted fashion that increases innate and adaptive immune system stimulation. AstraZeneca has an exciting portfolio of molecules that we believe may augment oncolytic virus activity. Transgene has been a leader in the development of vaccinia viruses for many years, and this collaboration will allow us to leverage their platform in the development of novel immunotherapies.”

Philippe Archinard, Chairman and CEO of Transgene, said: “We are pleased to have signed this important collaboration, which further validates the potential of our world-leading oncolytic virus platform. We are looking forward to a productive collaboration with AstraZeneca as we believe the resulting engineered oncolytic virus immunotherapies will provide cancer patients with better treatment options.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Transgene will contribute its oncolytic virus expertise to the collaboration, including viral design and engineering, and will provide its novel vaccinia virus platform technology containing a double gene deletion (TK-, RR-). Additionally, Transgene will lead on in vitro preclinical development. AstraZeneca will select the transgenes to be encoded within the virus and will be responsible for further preclinical development activities in support of potential investigational new drug submissions. AstraZeneca will also have the option to clinically develop and commercialise these novel oncolytic immunotherapies.


About AstraZeneca’s Approach to Immuno-Oncology

IO is a therapeutic approach designed to stimulate the body’s immune system to attack tumours. At AstraZeneca, our IO portfolio is anchored by immunotherapies that have been designed to overcome anti-tumour immune suppression. We believe that IO-based therapies offer the potential for life-changing cancer treatments for the clear majority of patients.

We are pursuing a comprehensive clinical trial programme that includes Imfinzi (anti-PDL1) as monotherapy and in combination with tremelimumab (anti-CTLA4) in multiple tumour types, stages of disease, and lines of therapy, using the PD-L1 biomarker as a decision-making tool to define the best potential treatment path for a patient. In addition, the ability to combine our IO portfolio with small, targeted molecules from across our Oncology pipeline, and from our research partners, may provide new treatment options across a broad range of tumours.

About AstraZeneca in Oncology

AstraZeneca has a deep-rooted heritage in Oncology and offers a quickly-growing portfolio of new medicines that has the potential to transform patients’ lives and the Company’s future. With at least six new medicines to be launched between 2014 and 2020, and a broad pipeline of small molecules and biologics in development, we are committed to advancing Oncology as a key growth driver for AstraZeneca focused on lung, ovarian, breast and blood cancers. In addition to our core capabilities, we actively pursue innovative partnerships and investments that accelerate the delivery of our strategy as illustrated by our investment in Acerta Pharma in haematology.

By harnessing the power of four scientific platforms – Immuno-Oncology, Tumour Drivers and Resistance, DNA Damage Response and Antibody Drug Conjugates – and by championing the development of personalised combinations, AstraZeneca has the vision to redefine cancer treatment and one day eliminate cancer as a cause of death.

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of diseases in three therapy areas - Oncology, Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism and Respiratory. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information, please visit and follow us on Twitter @AstraZeneca.


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