Pfizer returns brain cancer vax rights to Celldex

Pfizer is returning the rights to rindopepimut (CDX-110), a therapeutic cancer vaccine, to Celldex Therapeutics. Pfizer, which gained rights to the drug as part of $440 million deal in 2008, says it's returning the rights because the drug is "no longer a strategic priority" for the company, raising questions about the viability of the program and sending Celldex's stock down sharply. Researchers are evaluating rindopepimut as a potential treatment for glioblastoma multiforme, a common type of brain tumor.

Celldex will regain full worldwide rights to develop and commercialize rindopepimut. The company says it plans to move ahead with more trials of the drug. TheStreet notes that as of June 30, Celldex had $65.8 million in its coffers; it will have to draw upon that nest-egg to fund late-stage trials of rindopepimut.

The general prognosis for anyone diagnosed with malignant glioma is poor, and patients generally have up to three years to live following diagnosis. "There is a significant need for new therapies for GBM and we are fully committed to developing rindopepimut for the patients who suffer from this fatal disease," says Celldex President and CEO Anthony Marucci. "[T]he program has advanced significantly, including the completion of a multi-center Phase II study, the development of a diagnostic companion product, the manufacture of drug supply for clinical studies, and the execution of discussions with regulatory agencies on the design of a global controlled study."

- check out Celldex release
- read TheStreet article for more