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