MELBOURNE, Australia, GERMANTOWN, Md. and BOSTON, Oct. 23, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Mesoblast Limited (ASX:MSB), a world leader in the development of cell-based biologic products, Intrexon Corporation (NYSE:XON), a leader in synthetic biology, and ZIOPHARM Oncology, Inc. (Nasdaq:ZIOP), a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of new cancer therapies, today announced a partnership to develop a new class of cancer therapeutics.
Under the terms of the agreement the companies will combine Mesoblast's proprietary Mesenchymal Lineage Cells (MLCs) with Intrexon's RheoSwitch Therapeutic System® (RTS®) platform to co-develop complex transgene enabled cell-based treatments for oncology applications. The goal of combining these technologies is to enable development of therapeutic candidates in the treatment of cancer which exhibit both specific tumor targeting characteristics and controlled gene expression. The partnership is a 50/50 collaboration between Mesoblast and Ziopharm, with Intrexon participating through its Exclusive Channel Collaboration with Ziopharm. If successful in feasibility studies targeting lung cancer, the companies expect to form a joint venture to advance development of therapeutic candidates.
Randal J. Kirk, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Intrexon Corporation, noted that the initial studies and subsequent joint venture will bring together unique Intrexon technology, Mesoblast cell technology and production expertise and ZIOPHARM development expertise.
"The combination of expertise, technologies and production capabilities represented by Mesoblast, ZIOPHARM, and Intrexon is an excellent example of how collaborations will be expanded into new areas of therapeutic research and development," Kirk said. "Through this program each party has an essential role that is indispensable to its advancement and hopefully to the development of more effective cancer therapies."
Silviu Itescu, Chief Executive Officer of Mesoblast Limited, said: "MLCs modified with RTS® technology could be ideal vehicles to deliver therapeutic transgenes to targeted tumors at specific sites in the body. Additionally, our cells can be commercially manufactured to industrial scale for clinical use as they are readily expanded to large numbers in culture, can be used in allogeneic recipients without the need for matching or immunosuppression, and are available cryopreserved for off-the-shelf use.
"By seeking to develop anti-cancer effectors using our proprietary MLCs, we are now expanding the focus of our oncology therapeutic area beyond the field of bone marrow transplants and the treatment of its major complication, acute graft-versus-host disease. If this complex cell plus transgene approach is successful for lung cancers, the technology will be explored for the treatment of other cancers," Itescu said.