HOUSTON and VANCOUVER, Canada ― The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Virogin Biotech today announced a strategic collaboration to accelerate the development of investigational treatments, including oncolytic viruses and immunotherapies, for patients with advanced cancers.
The agreement brings together MD Anderson’s clinical trials expertise and infrastructure with Virogin’s innovative pipeline of investigational oncolytic viruses. The five-year collaboration will support the clinical development of Virogin’s therapies with multiple clinical trials in various cancer types to evaluate the safety and clinical benefit of these therapies and to identify prognostic biomarkers of response.
“Our collaboration with MD Anderson to advance the clinical development of our products is an important step toward our goal of providing new treatment options for patients with high unmet medical needs worldwide,” said Ronghua Zhao, M.D., chief medical officer of Virogin Biotech.
Virogin’s viral therapies are engineered to directly eliminate tumor cells and to stimulate both innate and adaptive anti-tumor immune responses. The initial clinical study will evaluate Virogin’s VG201 in advanced tumors. VG201 is a first-in-class oncolytic HSV-1 virus that has enhanced oncolytic activity specifically for tumors expressing carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and is designed to produce immune-stimulating cytokines IL-12 and IL-15/IL15Rα.
Together with the clinical trials, the collaboration also will support translational research at MD Anderson to uncover valuable insights into the anti-tumor activity of virotherapies and the role of various payloads in changing the tumor-microenvironment.
“Oncolytic viruses hold the potential to be highly specific therapies that boost anti-tumor immune responses, offering opportunities for synergistic combinations with immune checkpoint blockade and other immunotherapies,” said Siqing Fu, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics at MD Anderson. “We are pleased to collaborate with Virogin in this effort to accelerate the development of these novel cancer therapies.”
About Virogin Biotech:
Virogin Biotech is a clinical-stage biotech company developing next-generation immuno-oncolytic therapeutics to enhance systemic anti-tumor immunity. With over 170 employees in Canada, China, and the United States, and led by a team with over 25 years of experience in fundamental research and translational and clinical development of immunotherapy & oncolytic virotherapy, Virogin is determined to be a global, best-in-class immuno-oncology company that creates impactful therapeutics for patients with the highest medical need.
Virogin is developing two different platforms that are highly complementary: an oncolytic HSV-1 platform armed with multiple therapeutic payloads and genomic regulation to increase oncolytic effect and modulate the tumor microenvironment; and a discovery-stage mRNA tumor vaccine platform consisting of tumor vaccines to be used in combination with oncolytic viruses to augment anti-tumor activity.
About MD Anderson
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks as one of the world's most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. The institution’s sole mission is to end cancer for patients and their families around the world. MD Anderson is one of only 53 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). MD Anderson is No. 1 for cancer in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” rankings. It has been named one of the nation’s top two hospitals for cancer since the rankings began in 1990. MD Anderson receives a cancer center support grant from the NCI of the National Institutes of Health (P30 CA016672).