Oxford Biomedica bags Novartis leukaemia deal

Pharmaceutical giant Novartis has signed up biotech firm Oxford Biomedica to provide its gene delivery technology for a programme targeting various forms of leukaemia.

Pharmaceutical giant Novartis has signed up biotech firm Oxford Biomedica to provide its gene delivery technology for a programme targeting various forms of leukaemia.

The deal, which is worth between £2.5m and £4.0m to Oxford Biomedica over the next 12 months, will see the Oxford company's LentiVector gene delivery technology manufacture clinical grade genetic material for Novartis's CTL019 clinical development programme.

CTL019 is the lead project in a leukaemia-focused collaboration between the Swiss 'big pharma' player and the University of Pennsylvania.

CTL019 uses a gene delivery system called a lentiviral vector to genetically modify a patient's immune cells before they are re-infused into patients.

According to Edison Investment Research, such 'ex vivo' techniques "are typically difficult to scale-up easily and the deal helps validate Oxford BioMedica's viral vector production expertise".

"Additionally, it also highlights that gene therapy has the potential to dramatically alter life-threatening and severely debilitating disease outcomes."

Oxford BioMedica's Chief Executive Officer John Dawson said: "The strategic investment in our specialist manufacturing capabilities is a pivotal step towards building a financially self-sustaining business and this collaboration is an example of how we can commercialise our expertise."

Edison notes that the Novartis payments should mean that the company, which had net cash at end-2012 of £14.1m and is estimated to be burning cash at around £1.0m per month, has enough cash to reach the second quarter of 2014.

Shares in Oxford Biomedica were up 15% at 1.9p by 09:49 on the morning of the announcement.

OH

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