Transgene teams with Jennerex in $116M cancer pact

France's Transgene is hitching its wagon and a $116 million slate of milestones to a new collaboration with San Francisco-based Jennerex on a virus-based cancer cell-killing therapy. In the pact the two biotech companies will mount mid- and late-stage studies for JX-594, first for Hepatocellular Carcinoma and then colorectal cancer. Transgene gets European commercialization rights.

Transgene, which grabbed an undisclosed equity stake in Jennerex in the deal, sees JX-594 as a potential blockbuster in Europe with an approval schedule that could allow marketing in 2015. The therapy is designed to mount a three-pronged attack on cancer: combating cells through viral replication, cutting the blood supply to tumors and spurring an immune response to fight the cancer. Back in May Jennerex reported signs of efficacy and safety in a dose-escalating Phase I trial.

"With a time to market in Europe forecast for 2015 and a European market potential of over $1bn, JX-594 has the capacity to provide us with a very substantial return on our investment, should the product meet all of its milestones," said Transgene CEO Philippe Archinard.

- read the Jennerex release
- check out the Dow Jones report