Cancer drug companies have been fighting lately in a completely different and interesting arena: immunotherapy. The competition is indeed heating up that firms such as AstraZeneca are willing to pay millions of dollars for promising treatments. AstraZeneca, through its research company called MedImmune, has just recently announced its decision to purchase a novel drug INO-3112 from Inovio, based in Pennsylvania, for a staggering price tag of $727 million.
INO-3112 is a drug for immunotherapy, a new way of combating cancer by boosting the body’s immune system. This then allows the antibodies and specific cells to fight off the tumor. The treatment may also provide synthetic proteins to boost the body’s fighting chance.
MedImmune believes that with the proper immunotherapy protocol for the patient, conventional methods such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which have plenty of serious risks, can now be significantly reduced, if not eliminated. In fact, patients may no longer have to go through surgery, which is a common first-line treatment.
While AstraZeneca already has immunotherapy products in the market, the acquisition of INO-3112 will make it an instrument for combination therapies.
As for Inovio, the drug, which is still not approved, is currently in the advanced stages of the clinical trials. It will be intended for treating head and neck cancers, as well as cervical cancer. While there are already cervical cancer vaccines, they cite the rather poor record of them. Their drug, on the other hand, will work on modifying DNA sequencing that will trigger the manufacture of certain T-cells, which will then curb tumor growth.
So far, MedImmune has already paid its down payment of $27.5 million. The remaining amount will be given as the research and drug reach certain milestones. The company will also pay for the research.
The partnership is also set to increase the revenues of Inovio as it receives a share in the drug’s sale. Both will also be working on cancer vaccines.