Boehringer buys ViraTherapeutics to help make ‘cold’ tumours ‘hot’

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Artem_Egorov)
(Image: Getty/Artem_Egorov)

Related tags Boehringer ingelheim Immuno-oncology

Boehringer Ingelheim will pay €210m for ViraTherapeutics to boost viral-based immune-oncology R&D.

As per the agreement, Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) will integrate Austria-based ViraTherapeutics and its lead candidate VSV-GP (vesicular stomatitis virus with glycoprotein) into its discovery research organisation.

According to the Germany-headquartered firm, VSV-GP has shown “promising results” ​in pre-clinical models. “Especially in combination with key immune modulatory principles Boehringer Ingelheim is developing,” ​BI added in a statement​.

The €210m ($245m) deal follows on from an option and share purchase agreement signed between the companies in August 2016.

Oncolytic viral approach

By leveraging ViraTherapeutics’ technology, BI hopes to develop a ‘next generation’ oncolytic viral therapy platform.

“Oncolytic viral therapy is a cancer treatment approach with two modes of action. First, the virus specifically replicates in and kills cancer cells,” ​explained BI.

Second, viral infection stimulates the immune system to recognize these same cancer cells, leading to immune-mediated killing of both infected and non-infected cancer cells, further enhancing tumour control,”​ the firm added.

This process of transforming ‘cold’, or immunologically inactive, tumours to ‘hot’ tumours, those that are most susceptible to immune system attack, is central to BI’s immune-oncology approach, said​ Michel Pairet, a member of BI’s board of managing directors with responsibility for R&D.

BI did not respond to a request for comment.

2018 investment

The ViraTherapeutics acquisition marks BI’s third major investment this year, following on from its Biologics Development Centre​ build, announced in June, 2018. The €230m Biberach, Germany-based centre will bring analytical, process development, and manufacturing capabilities for biologics ‘under one roof’.

In addition, last month the firm began construction of its €85m ‘Solid Launch​’ facility in Ingelheim, Germany, where it will manufacture drugs in tablet form. The site is expected to be operational in 2020.

Related topics Bio Developments Pipelines

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