Biotech/Pharmaceutical

Inovio Pharmaceuticals and Roche Holding Part Ways in Immunotherapy Molecule Development

Inovio and Roche Part Ways in Immunotherapy Molecule Development
Inovio has an exceptional opportunity to excel in the therapeutic fields of hepatitis and prostate cancer

Roche Holding Limited (ADR) (OTCMKTS:RHHBY) and Inovio have separated their ways from the mutual development of molecule to treat prostate cancer and hepatitis B ailments. The deal, worth $422.5 million, was finalized in 2013 and involved two molecules, INO-1800 and INO-5150; however, Inovio recently announced that it has received notice from Roche regarding the contract’s termination.

The investigational drug INO-1800, undergoing Phase 1 clinical trials, will take impact from this event. Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:INO) will get the rights of the immunotherapy molecule and its license. Roche’s separation from the program will not affect its capability to develop novel molecules, as it is already working on five core therapeutic areas such as oncology, neuroscience, immunology, cardiovascular and metabolism, and ophthalmology.

Inovio CEO and President, Dr. J. Joseph Kim, said: “While we acknowledge Roche’s strategic decision in the area of hepatitis B, we are optimistic that our potent immunotherapy platform will make a difference in this globally important chronic viral infection, similar to what we have demonstrated in HPV-related disease. Inovio was already managing the phase 1 clinical trial so the study will continue on track without disruption.”

On the other hand, Inovio has given back INO-1800 rights to Roche, which is indicted for HBV’s management and treatment. The molecule is undergoing Phase 1 clinical trials at 30 sites in the US.

The trial is testing INO-1800, which targets HBV antigens, alone and in combination with INO-9112, an IL-12-based immune activator. The study has completed interim safety reviews with a “favorable” profile; immunology analyses are slated to begin after enrollment completion.

In addition, Roche has returned INO-5150, indicated for the management and treatment of prostate cancer. Inovio is working on the molecule, which is in phase 1 clinical trial that specifically targets prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Roche will pay $10 million upfront to Inovio, along with $412.5 million for research and development expenses.

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