(Reuters) – British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc and French biopharmaceutical firm Transgene SA entered into an agreement on Thursday to co-develop five cancer-killing viral immunotherapies.

Viral immunotherapy represents a new way of treating cancer by using transgenes, or genes that are artificially introduced into the genome of another organism. A number of companies are working to harness the power of specific viruses to fight tumors using this technology.

“AstraZeneca will select the transgenes to be encoded within the virus and will be responsible for further in-vivo pre-clinical development and, subject to option exercise, clinical development and commercialization of these novel oncolytic immunotherapies,” Transgene said.

AstraZeneca has been moving deeper into cancer therapy market through wide-ranging deals, including those for immunotherapy and targeted therapy.

Last month, AstraZeneca agreed to a multi-billion dollar oncology deal with Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo Co Ltd, on a hotly-tipped experimental treatment for breast cancer, in a direct challenge to the world’s biggest cancer drug maker Roche.

Transgene said it would receive $10 million upon signing and additional pre-clinical success milestone payments of up to $3 million.


Reporting by Justin George Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty


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