Targovax ASA and Agenus Announce Collaboration on Mutant KRAS Cancer Vaccine Adjuvanted with QS-21 STIMULON™
Targovax ASA (OSE: TRVX), a clinical-stage immuno-oncology company developing immune activators to target hard-to-treat solid tumors, and Agenus (NASDAQ: AGEN), an immuno-oncology company with an extensive pipeline of checkpoint antibodies, adjuvants, and vaccines designed to activate immune response to cancers and infections, today announce that they have entered into a clinical collaboration and supply agreement to combine Targovax’s TG mutant KRAS cancer vaccines with Agenus´s clinically validated and FDA approved QS-21 STIMULON adjuvant.
The TG vaccines are peptide mixtures designed to elicit polyvalent immune responses against the most frequent mutations in the RAS gene family, which drive up to 30% of all cancers. TG01 has shown promise in phase 1/2 clinical trials, and Targovax has recently been awarded two prestigious research grants providing up to NOK 18m in funding to advance the TG program. Cancer vaccines require combination with an adjuvant in order to stimulate antigen processing and T-cell priming, and Targovax has selected QS-21 STIMULON as the adjuvant of choice for continued clinical development.
QS-21 STIMULON is a purified, natural saponin proprietary to Agenus. It has been widely studied in over 120 clinical trials and consistently demonstrated powerful antibody and cell-mediated immune responses as well as a favorable safety profile. QS-21 STIMULON is a critical component of multiple vaccines, including GSK’s FDA approved Shingrix® shingles vaccine with protection exceeding 9 years, and the world’s first malaria vaccine Mosquirix™.
Under the collaboration with Targovax, Agenus will supply QS-21 STIMULON and scientific support for up to three initial TG01 clinical trials in different cancer indications. If the clinical results meet certain pre-specified performance targets, the collaboration will be extended into an exclusive pivotal development and commercialization agreement where Agenus will be entitled to tiered double-digit royalties on future TG vaccine sales.
Dr. Garo H. Armen, Chief Executive Officer of Agenus Inc., said: “We look forward to collaborating with Targovax to extend the benefit of QS-21 STIMULON to new patient populations such as those harboring KRAS-mutated cancers. It highlights the broad applicability of our QS-21 STIMULON technology and could unlock a sizeable commercial opportunity in KRAS-mutated cancers.”
Dr. Erik Digman Wiklund, Chief Executive Officer of Targovax ASA, added: “QS-21 STIMULON is arguably the most clinically and commercially successful FDA approved adjuvant for protein- and peptide-based vaccines, and has proven highly effective in eliciting immune responses. We expect that this unique adjuvant will further enhance the efficacy of our TG01 and TG02 products, and see it as a critical component of our development strategy as we prepare to bring the TG vaccines back into the clinic in multiple mutant KRAS cancers.”
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