Measels viruses for cancer therapy

Max Planck Innovation and Themis Bioscience licence technology to develop and commercialize oncolytic virotherapies

October 11, 2018

Themis Bioscience has announced that it has entered into a license agreement with Max Planck Innovation, the technology transfer agency of the Max Planck Society in Germany. The agreement grants the biotech company exclusive worldwide license to develop, manufacture and commercialize therapies based on an oncolytic measles virus platform. The technology was jointly developed by the Eberhard-Karls-University Tübingen and the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry.

Viruses can be useful aides in cancer therapy since they are able to infect and kill tumor cells. Themis Bioscience will now develop, manufacture and commercialize therapies based on an oncolytic measles virus platform.

The licensed technology is a modified measles virus based on the viral genome sequence of the established measles vaccine strain, which has been used to immunize billions of people worldwide. The measles virus itself has innate anti-cancer properties, for example, mediating tumor cell lysis, T cell activation and specific tumor cell targeting. Furthermore, it can also be engineered to include a tumor killing payload, making it a major building block for an effective oncolytic virus immunotherapy.

“The agreement is a transformative step for the company and will broaden our immunomodulation platform into oncology. It also greatly complements our existing patent portfolio around the measles vector technology for infectious diseases,” commented Erich Tauber, CEO and founder of Themis. “We believe the long standing expertise of Lauer’s virotherapy research group at the University Tübingen in advanced oncolytic approaches together with our measles virus product development capabilities provide a strong foundation to rapidly develop differentiated immuno-oncology therapeutics.”

Themis established a robust cGMP manufacturing process for its measles vector technology and built a broad pipeline with both proprietary and partnered infectious disease vaccine candidates. The lead program in Chikungunya is anticipated to enter Phase 3 development in the near- to medium-term. Themis believes that today’s licensing deal with Max Planck Innovation will further expand its innovative technology platform to include novel oncolytic virus-based immunotherapy applications.

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