Boehringer looks to oncology vaccines with €325m acquisition

By Ben Hargreaves

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Design Cells)
(Image: Getty/Design Cells)

Related tags Boehringer ingelheim AMAL Therapeutics Cancer vaccine

Boehringer takes on AMAL to gain access to its cancer vaccine technology, with a lead candidate due to enter first-in-human studies this month.

Boehringer Ingelheim plans to use the acquired vaccine technology in combination with its own oncology immunology portfolio to bolster its position in the sector.

AMAL Therapeutics explained that it has developed a new class of standardized therapeutic vaccines, which the Swiss biotech expects could be used in combination with immune-modulators to improve the strength and duration of patient’s immune response.

The therapeutic cancer vaccines developed by AMAL utilize its Kisima platform, which creates therapeutics designed to activate killer T cells and generate anti-tumor immunity.

AMAL’s Kisima platform combines three functional components into one fusion protein to be used as a vaccine, with the potential therapies carrying antigens that are also present in tumors.

AMAL’s lead candidate, ATP128, is under investigation to treat stage IV colorectal cancer and will enter first-in-human trials ‘later this month’.

Boehringer will spend €325m ($364m) to acquire AMAL, which was spun out of the University of Geneva in 2012 – where it is still based.

“Acquiring AMAL is part of Boehringer’s long-term strategy to enhance our existing position as an innovator of novel cancer therapies, including immuno-oncology treatments, which leverage cutting-edge scientific discoveries and their applications,”​ said Michel Pairet, a member of Boehringer Ingelheim’s board of managing directors.

Boehringer explained that it plans to combine AMAL’s assets with its own cancer immunology technology, focused on triggering an immune response against ‘cold’ tumors, which have not been recognised by the body’s immune system. AMAL’s vaccine technology is designed to trigger an immune response, effectively turning them ‘hot’.

A statement on the technology explained that by presenting the immune system with antigens present in tumor cells, a ‘tailor-made’ immune response can be instigated that can also boost ‘memory immunity’ to reduce the risk of relapse.

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