Oncolytic viral therapy is a cancer treatment approach with two modes of action: First, the virus specifically replicates in and kills cancer cells; second, viral infection stimulates the immune system to recognize those cancer cells, leading to immune-mediated killing of both infected and noninfected cancer cells and further enhancing tumor control.
Boehringer – based in Ingelheim, Germany, with North American headquarters in Ridgefield – and ViraTherapeutics (ViraT) have been working to develop a next-generation oncolytic viral therapy platform that has shown promising results in pre-clinical models, especially in combination with key immune modulatory principles Boehringer is developing.
“The acquisition of ViraTherapeutics with its exciting oncolytic virus platform is the conclusion of a trusting and close cooperation over two years,” said ViraT CEO Heinz Schwer, who expressed confidence that the agreement will result in “a source of innovative, new treatment options for patients living with cancer.”
“We are committed to investing in early research with promise and where our expertise best complements the strengths of our partners,” added Michel Pairet, the member of Boehringer Ingelheim’s Board of Managing Directors responsible for its research and development. “Together, we aim to discover breakthrough medical treatments to transform the lives of patients and win the fight against cancer.”
ViraT was a portfolio company of two venture investors: EMBL Ventures and the Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (BIVF). BIVF, focused on strategic investment in highly innovative biotechnology and startup companies to help drive innovation in medical science, has €250 million (about $292 million) under management. It currently supervises a portfolio of 22 active companies and is one of the most active investors in immuno-oncology worldwide.