Inovio announced today that it closed an agreement providing ApolloBio Corp. (NEEQ:430187) with the exclusive right to develop, manufacture and commercialize VGX-3100, Inovio’s DNA immunotherapy product designed to treat precancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), within Greater China (mainland China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan). AplolloBio will make an upfront payment to Inovio of $23 million as well as potential future payments up to $20 million upon meeting certain milestones.
Inovio's president and CEO, Dr Joseph Kim, said,
“We are pleased to close this agreement that opens large markets and brings us $23 million in non-dilutive cash with future milestone payments and royalties on sales. ApolloBio is an excellent partner that will provide significant capabilities and expertise relating to product development, the Chinese regulatory landscape, and the commercial market in China. This agreement strengthens and expands our global efforts to develop VGX-3100.”
VGX-3100 is an investigational immunotherapy (currently in PhIII trials) designed to treat precancers and cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Using Aspire technology, VGX-3100 includes DNA plasmids targeting the E6 and E7 proteins of HPV types 16 and 18. VGX-3100 is delivered intramuscularly using the Cellectra 5PSP delivery device.
Cellectra is a device applied to the injection site to encourage cells to take up the plasmids through a process called electroporation. Electroporation involves applying controlled, millisecond electrical pulses to increase the permeability cell membrane. Inovio claims that the device has increased the expression of “naked” DNA 100 fold compared to conventional injection. Swiss drug manufacturer Roche licensed rights to the Cellectra technology in 2013.