SEATTLE, Oct. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- VentiRx Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a privately held biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of novel Toll-like receptor 8 (TLR8) agonists and antagonists today announced the formation of an exclusive, world-wide collaboration with Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ: CELG) for the development of VTX-2337, a highly potent and selective TLR8 agonist for the treatment of cancer. As part of the strategic agreement, Celgene will retain the exclusive option to acquire VentiRx.
Under terms of the agreement, Celgene will provide a $35 million upfront payment to fund further research and development of VTX-2337 through pre-defined clinical endpoints. During the option period, VentiRx will be eligible to receive additional funding, including a potential equity investment by Celgene.
"We are excited to have the support of Celgene to advance our development efforts and optimize the potential of VTX-2337 as a novel immunotherapy that augments current treatment regimens," said Robert Hershberg, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of VentiRx. "We have made significant progress to date in preclinical and clinical studies, and this collaboration reflects both the promise of VTX-2337 and the commitment by Celgene to pursue innovation in cancer therapeutics.""We are enthusiastic about the emerging potential for cancer immunotherapy in general, and view the VentiRx candidate, VTX-2337 as quite promising," said Thomas Daniel, M.D. Celgene President, Research and Early Development. "We look forward to clinical data in combination therapy that would position this candidate drug into a strategic position in our pipeline." About VTX-2337 VTX-2337 is a novel cancer immunotherapy that directly activates human myeloid dendritic cells (mDCs), monocytes and natural killer (NK) cells resulting in the production of high levels of mediators known to orchestrate the integration of innate and adaptive anti-tumor responses. Results demonstrate that the direct activation of mDCs by VTX-2337 results in a uniquely robust production of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines that increase cell mediated immunity and potentially enhance the anticancer effect of standard chemotherapy. Additionally, VTX-2337 has a direct effect on NK cells and augments antibody dependent cellular toxicity (ADCC), which supports the opportunity of combining VTX-2337 with monoclonal antibodies where ADCC contributes to clinical efficacy. VentiRx has advanced VTX-2337 into clinical trials designed to evaluate the compound in multiple oncology indications in combination with a variety of anticancer agents, including chemotherapy and monoclonal antibody therapy.
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