Replimune is an Oxford (UK) biotech baby, having only been founded in April this year a spin-off of former US BioVex. Nonetheless, this hasn’t stopped its Series A finance round reaching up to €26.8M. Replimune’s focal research is in developing new immuno-oncology therapies using oncolytic viruses, inspired by BioVex-Amgen’s T-VEC success.
Replimune was founded by Robert Coffin, who had developed his expertise in oncolytic virus therapies for cancer whilst working as CSO at BioVex, a US based immuno-oncology pharma. BioVex was eventually bought out by Amgen for their talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC) therapy for €378M back in 2011. With therefore strong links to Cambridge (MA), Replimune hopes to continue research along the same lines as Biovex’s success.
Amgen’s T-VEC is currently undergoing FDA review for the US market as the first oncolytic viral therapy to succeed in its phase III trials. Derived from an engineered herpes-simplex virus 1, T-VEC is injected directly into tumors in order to cause lysis of the cancer cells, whilst also stimulating a localized immune response by tumeric released GM-CSF cytokines.