Vical, Astellas ink $130M vaccine licensing deal

Japan's Astellas will pay up to $130 million to license a vaccine to prevent cytomegalovirus (CMV) reactivation in transplant recipients. The disease is typically dormant in those who are healthy but can cause illness in immunocompromised people, such as those who've received an organ transplant. A Phase III trial of TransVax in hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients and a Phase II study in solid organ transplant patients are slated to begin in 2012.

Astellas will develop and commercialize TransVax in the U.S. and for all territories in the rest of world, with Vical retaining the right to co-promote the vaccine in the U.S. The Japanese drug developer will take on all developing and commercialization costs. Vical will continue to assist Astellas with some manufacturing and development work related to the vaccine.

"Our first-in-class CMV vaccine would complement the existing Astellas franchise in the transplant market, a strategic focus area for Astellas," explained Vical CEO Vijay Samant in a statement. "This program will bring together Astellas' substantial resources and strong commercial presence in key world markets, and Vical's development, regulatory and manufacturing expertise with DNA-based product candidates."

- here's Vical's release

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