Transgene inks EUR700m contract with Novartis
Molsheim/Basel – Novartis AG has secured an exclusive option on a lung cancer vaccine, developed by French drug developer Transgene S.A. Upon clinical proof-of-concept of TG4010, an MVA vector that expresses the cancer antigen MUC1 together with the adjuvans IL-2, the French company can reach milestones up to 700m euros. However investors, who expected a better deal including investments of Novartis for clinical development, pulled down Transgene’s shares by 12%, yesterday. In reality, the deal brings a $10m non-refundable option fee for the company. Transgene has already demonstrated significant time to progression benefit of TG4010 + chemotherapy in a Phase IIb trial in patients with advanced (phase III + IV) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). There was no benefit in overall survival compared to chemotherapy alone, however the company identified a subpopulation, in which more than 70% of patients responded to the treatment. There is strong competition in this field. GlaxoSmithKline and Merck KGaA both have lung cancer vaccines, known as MAGE-A3 and Stimuvax, respectively, in final clinical testing. Transgene intends to initiate Phase III testing of its vaccine at the end of 2010 but can costs back from Novartis if the deal goes ahead.