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Apr 02, 2007
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

Finding a Tro(Vax) believer

sanofi-aventis Group hopes its deal to acquire worldwide rights to TroVax will spark a change in the industry's wait-and-see attitude towards cancer vaccines. But the pharma company already was among the faithful, and didn't need to wait for last week's positive FDA panel for Dendreon Corp.'s Provenge prostate cancer vaccine to validate its interest, which stretches back more than a decade.

Indeed, sanofi-aventis (Euronext:SAN; SNY, Paris, France) says it chose to partner with Oxford BioMedica plc because the biotech's TroVax is very similar to the pharma company's ALVAC cancer vaccines and because TroVax causes a strong immunogenic response.

"sanofi-aventis are already believers in cancer vaccines," said Alan Kingsman, CEO of Oxford BioMedica (LSE:OXB, Oxford, U.K.). "They have, I would argue, one of the world's leading cancer vaccine groups, led by Neil Berinstein in their Toronto Sanofi-Pasteur operations. With some other companies, we found we were pushing against a closed door because they weren't believers."

Berinstein, global head of the cancer vaccine program at Sanofi-Pasteur, a subsidiary of sanofi-aventis, told BioCentury: "We hope this will be an important signal to the rest of the industry" that...

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