Transgene is partnering with Merck and Pfizer to develop a combined therapy for head and neck cancer squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) caused by human papiloma virus (HPV) infections. A successful outcome will let the team access a €2B market niche.
Transgene has been struggling for a while: last year it had to fire 40% of its workforce to keep afloat. But now, France’s oldest Biotech seems to be officially recovering from that rough patch, since its oncology vaccine technology has attracted the big players Merck and Pfizer. The new plan is to initiate Phase I/II trials, sponsored by Transgene, for a therapy that combines Transgene’s candidate TG4001 with Merck and Pfizer’s avelumab.
The trials will start in France in early 2017 and recruit patients with advanced and metastatic cancer that no longer responds to conventional treatments. The companies expect a synergistic effect of both treatments for HPV-positive patients, who until now were treated identically to those with HPV-negative tumors.
Transgene’s TG4001 is a vaccine candidate consisting of a recombinant viral vector that expresses HPV-16 antigens and IL-2 as an adjuvant.