Another must-have oncolytic virus asset for big pharma

Boehringer Ingelheim struck a deal with the oncolytic virus company Viratherapeutics in 2016, and it has clearly seen something extraordinary in the intervening two years. Otherwise it would be difficult to understand why it would today shell out €210m ($245m) to exercise an option to buy out Viratherapeutics without having seen a scrap of clinical data. It is clear that big pharma sees oncolytic viruses as an increasingly important part of the anticancer combination armoury. The previous deal, in February, saw Merck & Co pay a 184% premium to take out Viralytics for $394m, though unlike Viratherapeutics this company had a phase II asset (Merck & Co makes biggest oncolytic virus bet since Amgen in 2011, February 21, 2018). True, Amgen’s 2011 buyout of the Imlygic originator Biovex for $424m is a long way from being declared a masterstroke, but the potential of oncolytic viruses in immuno-oncology combinations is now increasingly being talked about – specifically in terms of turning “cold” tumours “hot” – and indeed Boehringer says this dual approach is central to its cancer immunology research strategy. Expect increased interest in other oncolytic virus companies, such as Targovax, Transgene and Oncolytics.

Selected oncolytic virus deals
Date Source Buyer Deal type Up-front  Note
Sep 2018 Viratherapeutics Boehringer Ingelheim Acquisition $245m VSV-GP project, preclinical
Feb 2018 Viralytics Merck & Co Acquisition $394m Cavatak, phase II asset
Nov 2017 Oncolytics Adlai Norte Licensing $5m Far East development of Reolysin
Oct 2017 Turnstone Biologics Abbvie Licensing Undisclosed Ad-MG1-MAGEA3, phase I/II asset
Dec 2016 Ignite Immunotherapy Pfizer Acquisition Undisclosed 50% stake
Dec 2016 Psioxus Bristol-Myers Squib Licensing Undisclosed NG-348, preclinical asset
Dec 2016 Takara Bio Otsuka Licensing Undisclosed Japan rights to HF10
Nov 2016 Virttu Biologics Sorrento Acquisition $25m (equity) Seprehvir, phase II asset
Jun 2016 Psioxus Bristol-Myers Squib Licensing $10m Enadenotucirev, phase I collaboration
Jun 2015 Oncos Targovax Acquisition Undisclosed Structured as a 50/50 merger
Jan 2015 Omnis Astrazeneca Licensing Undisclosed VSV project, phase II
Nov 2013 Jennerex Sillajen Acquisition Undisclosed $150m biodollar value
Jan 2011 Biovex Amgen Acquisition $424m Imlygic, approved for melanoma in 2015
Source: company statements.

Share This Article