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A fresh agreement protects the future development and marketing of a possible lung cancer treatment.
Novartis has agreed a deal with French biotechnology firm Transgene for the product, as it prepares to enter a key phase IIb/III clinical trial by the end of this year.
Novartis paid £6.6 million ($10 million) for exclusive rights to the targeted immunotherapy product, TG4010.
Transgene could get a further £632million ($950 million) if the drug makes it to market, as well as royalties on sales.
TG4010 behaves like a vaccine, stimulating the immune system to fight cancer cells. Other firms are carrying out similar trials but no products have made it to market as yet.
TG4010 aims to stimulate “Natural Killer” cells (NK cells), white blood cells (effector lymphocytes) that fight certain tumours and microbial infection.
The drug imitates MUC1, an antigen which 60% of sufferers of non-small cell lung cancer over-express.
Under the deal, Transgene will fund and retain control over the crucial IIb/III clinical trial, with Novartis getting ahead of the field if results are positive.
Copyright Press Association 2010