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Boehringer Ingelheim bags ViraT in €210m deal

EMBL Ventures has announced that its portfolio company ViraTherapeutics is set to be acquired by Boehringer Ingelheim in a €210m million (US$245m) transaction.

Oncolytic virus specialist ViraTherapeutics and Boehringer Ingelheim entered into a collaboration and option agreement in August 2016, which now ended in the acquisition of the Austrian company. 

By substituting the  VSV glycoprotein G of a replication-competent vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) with the glycoprotein of the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, ViraTherapeutics lead candidate  (VSV-GP) prevented drawbacks pereviously observed with VSV vectors such as neurotoxicity. This March, ViraTherapeutics  reported preclinical efficacy of its fast-replicating oncolytic virus in malignant melanoma. Previous report showed hints to efficacy in glioblastoma and ovarian cancer.  

Boehringer Ingelheim seem to see potential in VSV-GP as the virus has a shorter replication time than other oncolytic virus platforms currently under development. Furthermore, ViraT’s oncolytic virus does not integrate in the DNA. In VSV-GP the glycoprotein of the Vesicular Stomatitis Virus has been replaced by the glycoprotein of the Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV) to conceal the virus from the immune system. In preclinical models it did not induce virus neutralizing antibodies, opening up the avenue to repeated administration.

According to EMBL Ventures, however, VSV-GP is a highly potent oncolytic virus, which leads to an enhanced immune response that works together with the direct viral anti-tumour effect. 

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