AstraZeneca bails on Transgene oncolytic virus pact

May 5, 2023

Following a strategic review of its pipeline, AstraZeneca has decided to pull the plug on its oncolytic virus research and development collaboration with Transgene.

The 2019 deal — which gave France-based Transgene $10 million upfront and up to $3 million in pre-clinical milestones — involved co-developing five armed oncolytic vaccinia virus candidates based on Transgene’s proprietary next generation viral platform Invir.IO.

Transgene shared the news in a press release announcing its new CEO. But all is not lost for the cancer biotech. 

“Through the research that we have conducted as part of our collaboration with AstraZeneca, we have been able to advance our Invir.IO oncolytic virus platform technology resulting in the design of novel oncolytic viral drug candidates. Transgene remains confident that this unique platform has the potential to generate intravenous drug candidates that can safely deliver significant treatment improvements to cancer patients through their three-pronged mechanism of action,” said soon-to-be new CEO Alessandro Riva.

The company will regain the global rights to the oncolytic virus drug candidate that was in-licensed by AstraZeneca through the deal in December 2021. This intravenous drug candidate has been granted an IND by the U.S. FDA.

Transgene said it will continue to develop two clinical-stage Invir.IO-based oncolytic viruses, one in metastatic non-small cell lung cancer and another in injectable tumors, including melanoma.