BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS - Transgene SA executed a cooperative research and development agreement letter of intent with the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. for the development of novel melanoma treatments in conjunction with Steven Rosenberg, the chief of the NCI's surgery branch.

The collaboration is aimed at producing viral-based vectors encoding melanoma tumor-associated antigens such as gp100 and MART-1, which were identified and characterized by Rosenberg, and using the vectors to immunize individuals against malignant melanoma.

Strasbourg, France-based Transgene is to design novel cancer vaccine candidates using viral vectors to express Rosenberg's melanoma antigens, and the NCI will undertake preclinical evaluation of the vaccines with a view to sponsoring a Phase I/II trial in 2007.

Transgene said the immunizing vaccines could be administered in conjunction with adoptive cell therapy (ACT), a technique developed by Rosenberg's laboratory that involves the in vitro conditioning and amplification of a patient's own tumor-antigen specific, cytotoxic-directed lymphocytes. The lymphocytes are reintroduced into the patient following a lymphodepleting, non-myeloablative chemotherapy.