Xenova of the UK has been awarded a two-year contract by Denmark's Pharmexa for the manufacture of a vaccine in clinical trials as a treatment for breast cancer and other tumours. The vaccine will raise an immune response against the human HER-2 program, a drug target already addressed with Genentech's monoclonal antibody-based drug Herceptin (trastuzumab).
Pharmexa has developed the AutoVac Protein technology to raise a highly-specific controllable antibody based immune response against this and other self-proteins. Xenova has already supplied Pharmexa with clinical trial material under a previous agreement and, under the new deal, additional supplies of the vaccine will be manufactured by Xenova for Pharmexa's Phase II clinical trials, scheduled to begin in 2004.
News of the contract and its associated revenue stream comes at an opportune moment for Xenova, which has experienced a major disappointment in its drug development business with the termination of studies last month on tariquidar, a drug for non-small cell lung cancer which had been tipped to make sales of around $500 million a year at peak. The company has been forced to cut back on its in-house research in an effort to conserve its cash reserves.