News Feature | November 21, 2014

Roche, Inovio End Pact On Prostate Cancer Drug

By Estel Grace Masangkay

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Inovio Pharmaceuticals announced that it has ended its agreement with biotech giant Roche to jointly develop Inovio’s INO-5150 as immunotherapy for prostate cancer.

Under the terms of their original agreement last year, all rights to INO-5150 gained by Roche, along with rights to any collaborative research, reverts to Inovio. The company said it intends to independently pursue the development of INO-5150 into a Phase 1 clinical trial in the first half of 2015.

Inovio said it will continue to work with Roche to jointly develop its DNA immunotherapy INO-1800 against hepatitis B virus. The partners are on their way to advance INO-1800 into a Phase 1 study in 2015.

Dr. J. Joseph Kim, Inovio's president & CEO, said, “The Inovio/Roche partnership will continue to thrive focusing on the development of INO-1800 for the treatment of hepatitis B. In addition to recently demonstrating clinical efficacy and the ability to induce potent antigen specific CD8+ T cell responses in our VGX-3100 phase 2 study, Inovio will be moving a broad portfolio of immuno-oncology products through development... We believe that these products along with pre-phase 3 VGX-3100 will further our growth and represent opportunities for additional value-adding partnerships.” Aside from INO-5150 for pancreatic cancer, the company’s portfolio of investigational treatments includes INO-3112 for head or neck and cervical cancers and INO-1400 for breast, pancreatic, and lung cancers.

While Roche has given no solid reason for terminating the agreement, Maxim Group analyst Jason Kolbert said that the transaction does not depreciate Inovio’s value and leaves it with a single separate deal with Roche on HBV. “Inovio explained to us that Roche’s operations tend to be siloed and for complex reasons the prostate cancer program’s importance to Roche has fallen while HBV remains a priority. Inovio regains control of the product and plans to continue development, starting a phase 1 trial in 1H15.”