Citing a “reprioritization of preclinical programs in cancer gene therapy,” Cell Genesys Inc. discontinued its research collaboration and license agreement with GPC Biotech AG for p27/p16 gene therapy for cancer and cardiovascular disease.

No clinical trials resulted from the collaboration with GPC Biotech, of Munich, Germany.

“We have a very full product pipeline at this point,” said Jennifer Williams, associate director of corporate communications for Cell Genesys, of Foster City, Calif. She added that although the company saw interesting data, Cell Genesys is “simply managing our portfolio of products and moving forward with the things that look most promising.”

While no longer focusing on p27/p16, Cell Genesys said it will continue to focus on clinical and preclinical candidates in three platform areas: cancer vaccines, oncolytic viruses and cancer gene therapies.

Williams particularly pointed to the advances of drug-coated stents in treating restenosis as a reason for the decision. Treating restenosis was a primary focus of the collaboration.

“There have been other success stories in the industry, which makes it a less attractive market for us,” Williams said.

The collaboration dates back to 1998, when Cell Genesys gained exclusive rights from Mitotix Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., to use three cell cycle genes p16, p27 and the p27-17 fusion gene to develop products against cardiovascular disease, primarily restenosis. The collaboration was expanded in 1999 to include cancer, and then GPC Biotech acquired Mitotix in March 2000. (See BioWorld Today, March 21, 2000, and April 15, 1998.)

The licensed genes were known to play a key role in regulating cell growth and therefore thought to have potential applications against restenosis when Mitotix and Cell Genesys entered the collaboration. GPC Biotech now has rights back for all indications.

Cell Genesys received its oncolytics virus therapies through the acquisition in August of Calydon Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 3, 2001.)

Cell Genesys has seven clinical trials ongoing. Five are Phase II trials in cancer, including four with its GVAX vaccine in lung, prostate and pancreatic cancers, as well as leukemia. A fifth trial is with CG7060 for prostate cancer. The company has two Phase I/II trials under way, including a GVAX vaccine trial in myeloma and with CG7870 for prostate cancer.

Cell Genesys’ stock (NASDAQ:CEGE) rose $1.05 to close at $17.41 on Thursday.