Amgen announced it will acquire BioVex and its promising cancer vaccine for the upfront sum of $425 M plus milestones that could bring the total deal to $1 B. The therapy, OncoVex, is a dual-action, novel cancer vaccine consisting of an engineered virus that will attack and kill cancer cells plus evoke an immune response directed to the same cells.
Analysts noted the size of the upfront payment as being more unusual these days, and further stated that the deal may strongly signal Amgen's continuing intention to invest more in the anti-tumor treatments. "The virus should be generally applicable in tumor settings" said Roger Perlmutter, Amgen's executive vice president of R&D. Oncovax is now in phase III for metastatic melanoma as well as head and neck cancer.
If the trial is successful, it could be the basis to win FDA approval for the first oncolytic virus therapy. Other companies are working on oncolytic therapies - Genesys, Jennerex, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, and Oncolytics Biotech - but none have been approved as yet. Amgen's bet on BioVex may pay off big with a new anti-tumor therapy relatively soon or it may prove to be money washed away on the river. See Xconomy and Fierce Biotech. Posted by Bruce Lehr Jan 25th 2011.