Boehringer Ingelheim acquires ViraTherapeutics for 250 million dollars
Germany: Boehringer Ingelheim has recently announced that it has acquired all shares of viral therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company specializing in the development of oncolytic viral therapies. ViraTherapeutics developed the lead candidate VSV-GP (Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) with modified glycoprotein (GP)), which is being investigated alone and in combination with other therapies. The total transaction value of EUR 210 million is based on an option and share purchase agreement signed between the companies in August 2016.
ViraTherapeutics was a portfolio company of the two venture investors EMBL Ventures and the Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (BIVF). BIVF is focused on strategic investment in highly innovative biotechnology and start-up companies to help drive innovation in medical science. The BIVF has EUR 250 million under management and currently supervises a portfolio of 22 active companies and is one of the most active investors in immuno-oncology world-wide.
Oncolytic viral therapy is a cancer treatment approach with two modes of action. First, the virus specifically replicates in and kills cancer cells. Second, viral infection stimulates the immune system to recognize these same cancer cells, leading to the immune-mediated killing of both infected and non-infected cancer cells, further enhancing tumour control. Boehringer Ingelheim and viral therapeutics are working to develop a next-generation oncolytic viral therapy platform. The lead investigational candidate leveraging the platform, VSV-GP, has shown promising results in pre-clinical models, especially in combination with key immune modulatory principles Boehringer Ingelheim is developing.
“Our approach is rooted in transforming ‘cold’ tumours – or immunologically inactive tumours that are not responsive to the checkpoint blockers – to ‘hot‘ tumours – those that are most susceptible to immune system attack,” said Dr. Michel Pairet, member of Boehringer Ingelheim’s Board of Managing Directors responsible for Boehringer Ingelheim’s Research and Development.
“We are committed to investing in early research with promise and where our expertise best complements the strengths of our partners. Together, we aim to discover breakthrough medical treatments to transform the lives of patients and win the fight against cancer.”
Using a dual approach for potential treatment options, specifically combining immuno-oncology approaches with a tumour cell-directed treatments, is central to Boehringer Ingelheim’s cancer immunology research strategy. Oncolytic virus-based therapies are consistent with and complement that strategy.