Omnis Pharma and Magnis Therapeutics said today they will merge to form Vyriad, a developer of immunotherapies focused on a broad range of human cancers. The value of the merger was not disclosed.

Vyriad’s pipeline of oncolytic virotherapies consists of eight in clinical phases and seven in late-stage preclinical development. The eight clinical products include Phase II candidates in ovarian cancer and multiple myeloma, as well as Phase I programs in glioblastoma, mesothelioma, head and neck cancer, blood cancers, endometrial cancer, hematologic malignancies, and gastrointestinal cancer.

The seven preclinical programs would pair oncolytic vaccines with other cancer immunotherapy approaches, such as checkpoint inhibitors, and chemotherapy and other forms of cancer therapy.

Vyriad's oncolytic immunovirotherapies are based on the company's engineered oncolytic vesicular stomatitus virus (VSV) and oncolytic measles virus platforms, designed to enable selective destruction of cancer cells without harming normal tissues.

VSV is the focus of a licensing agreement inked last year that pairs the virus with a checkpoint inhibitor created by MedImmune, and a collaborative R&D agreement with Profectus BioSciences announced separately today.

Vyriad and Profectus said they will partner to develop cancer immunotherapies based on oncolytic recombinant VSV vaccines. The value of the collaboration was not disclosed. The companies will use a platform technology first developed by John K. Rose, Ph.D., director of the molecular virology program at Yale University.

In 2014, the measles virus was used successfully to treat a patient with multiple myeloma who remains disease-free 2 years following treatment—a patient who previously underwent 10 years of unsuccessful treatment and exhausted all traditional treatment options, the company said.

Vyriad licenses its VSV and measles virus platforms from the Mayo Clinic, the University of Miami, and Yale University School of Medicine.

Vyriad’s founder, director, CEO, and president will be Stephen J. Russell, M.D., Ph.D., who holds the same position with Omnis Pharma. Dr. Russell is a professor of molecular medicine and consultant hematologist at Mayo Clinic Rochester.

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