AstraZeneca Plc (NYSE:AZN) advanced in New York trading after the second-largest U.K. drugmaker agreed to pay Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:INO) as much as $727.5 million for rights to an experimental cancer vaccine.
ADRs of the London-based company added 1 percent to $34.03 at 11:57 a.m. in New York, expanding gains this month to 2.4 percent. Shares of Inovio leaped 23 percent to $7.92.
The deal is the third AstraZeneca has clinched in less than a week to secure access to new strategically key tumor-fighting drugs.
AstraZeneca said its Medimmune unit will pay Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania-based Inovio $27.5 million up front and as much as $700 million if its medicine, which targets cancers caused by the human papillomavirus, reaches certain development and commercial milestones.
MedImmune will fund all development costs.
AstraZeneca said its MedImmune biotech unit would study INO-3112 in combination with other immunotherapy drugs.
INO-3112, which is in Phase I/II clinical trials for cervical and head and neck cancers, works by generating killer T-cell responses that are able to destroy HPV 16- and 18-driven tumors. The two HPV types are responsible for more than 70 percent of cervical cancer.
Inovio is entitled to receive up to double-digit tiered royalties on INO-3112 product sales.
AstraZeneca is seeking drugs it can combine with its stable of immune oncology products, designed to harness the body’s immune system to fight tumors.
“Today’s collaboration with Inovio leverages our deep internal expertise in the use of vaccines to drive antigen-specific T-cell responses,” said Dr. David Berman, Senior Vice President and Head of the Oncology Innovative Medicines unit, MedImmune.
“The unique combination of our broad immuno-oncology portfolio with Inovio’s T-cell- activating INO-3112, which enhances cancer specific killer T-cells, has the potential to deliver real clinical benefits for patients,” Dr. Berman added.
The deal follows other recent immuno-oncology tie-ups by AstraZeneca with Sosei subsidiary Heptares and Mirati.