Medigene gambles on dendritic cell cancer vaccines in Trianta buyout

Germany's Medigene AG has nabbed a small cancer vaccine developer in a buyout which will add a team of investigators from one of the country's top research institutes. Medigene agreed to pay about €4 million in stock for Trianta Immunotherapies, with another €6 million chunk held aside for possible milestone payments.

The object of Medigene's desire is new platform technology focused on T cell therapies, including dendritic cell vaccines, T cell receptor-based adoptive cell therapy and T cell-targeted antibodies. While dendritic cell tech has come under a cloud since the commercial failure of Dendreon's ($DNDN) Provenge as well as the clinical failure of other cancer vaccines, several biotechs have been working on next-gen approaches which they believe can simplify the manufacturing process and boost therapeutic rewards for patients.

The buyout gives Medigene access to two dendritic cell vaccines in the clinic: a Phase I/II trial in acute myeloid leukemia at the Ludwig-Maximilians University Hospital Großhadern, Munich, and a clinical Phase II trial in prostate cancer at the Oslo University Hospital.

Dolores Schendel, chief science officer, Medigene

Medigene is gaining some notable talent in the deal. Professor Dolores Schendel, managing director of Trianta and director of the Institute for Molecular Immunology at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, part of Germany's large network of scientific institutes, is stepping in as Medigene's chief scientific officer, "accompanied by her team of 15 immunotherapy specialists."

"T cells activated by dendritic cells are by nature the best weapons against cancer," says Schendel in a statement. "The understanding of immune mechanisms has increased enormously over the last decade, and now our vision of activating T cells to effectively combat cancer is becoming a clinical reality."

- here's the release