Pfizer will advance Western Oncolytics’ novel preclinical oncolytic vaccinia virus, WO-12, the companies said today, through a collaboration whose value was not disclosed.

Pfizer and Western Oncolytics said their collaboration in oncolytic virus development will add another novel technology platform to the pharma giant’s cancer vaccine efforts, as well as to its immuno-oncology portfolio.

“Our goal is to combine WO-12 with our portfolio of promising investigational immunotherapies to explore how these novel combinations could help further enhance the body’s immune response in fighting cancer cells,” James Merson, Ph.D., CSO, vaccine immunotherapeutics at Pfizer, said in a statement.

Under their development collaboration, license, and option agreement, Pfizer and Western Oncolytics agreed to partner on preclinical and clinical development of WO-12 through Phase I trials. Following completion of Phase I trials, Pfizer has an exclusive option to acquire WO-12.

WO-12 is a virus engineered to replicate primarily in cancer cells while delivering several therapeutic genes that modulate the immune system to enhance efficacy against a range of cancers. Through replication inside cancer cells, WO-12 is designed to both kill the cancer cell and release tumor antigens that direct the immune system to recognize the antigens and kill additional cancer cells.

WO-12 has potential applications across multiple tumor types, Pfizer and Western Oncolytics said. As an in vivo vaccine, WO-12 could potentially be delivered directly to the tumor or intravenously.

“We believe this collaboration will create a unique opportunity to accelerate and expand the clinical testing of WO-12 as well as to examine potential combinations with other immunotherapies in the Pfizer portfolio,” added Steve Thorne, Ph.D., WO-12 inventor and CSO of Western Oncolytics.

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