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Medigene buys cancer vaccine start-up

Acquires Trianta to boost immuno-oncology business
Medigene

Medigene has boosted its position in immuno-oncology with a €9.9m ($13.5m) deal to buy fellow German group Trianta, which is developing a series of T cell-activating cancer vaccines.

Under the terms of the deal shareholders in privately-held Trianta will get €4m-worth of Medigene stock plus a maximum of €5.9m in potential milestone payments in either stock or cash.

German biotech Medigene has been in the market for an acquisition for some time, and described the Trianta deal as "transformative" as it adds three clinical-stage products and platform technologies that could provide multiple partnering opportunities.

Medigene - best known for its already-marketed genital warts treatment Veregen which brought in a little under €3m in revenues in the first nine months of 2013 - already has a pancreatic and breast cancer candidate called EndoTAG-1 on the brink of phase III testing.

The Trianta deal adds capabilities in dendritic cell vaccines - with a candidate for acute myeloid leukaemia in phase I/II testing and anther in phase II for prostate cancer - and a programme focusing on patient-derived T cells that can be modified ex vivo with T-cell receptors that enable them to detect and kill cancer cells that is in the build-up to trials.

A third technology platform is based on monoclonal antibodies that recognise and remove T cells - with potential in leukaemia as well as autoimmune disorders.

Trianta was spun off from the German Research Centre for Environmental Health (Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen) at the end of 2013 and is "at the forefront of personalised T cell immunotherapy", according to Medigene.

The company has already developed large-scale production for its dendritic cell-based vaccines that is claimed is efficient -producing multiple doses per batch with a long half-life - and better immune-stimulatory features than other products.

At the moment the only marketed dendritic cell vaccine is Dendreon's prostate cancer therapy Provenge, which despite being approved in the US in 2010 has seen very slow take-up thanks to its high price - attributed to its complex production - that has posed reimbursement hurdles.

"The new Medigene will combine proprietary immunotherapy platforms with late stage drug candidates and a marketed product," said Medigene chief executive Frank Mathias.

The Trianta team will be merged into Medigene and its managing director, well-known immunologist Dolores Schendel, has been named chief scientific officer of the enlarged group.

29th January 2014

From: Research

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