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Vical and Bristol-Myers Ink Deal

Zacks Equity Research

Vical Incorporated (VICL) recently signed an agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY) providing the latter with a global, non-exclusive license to its patented platform DNA immunization technology and Vaxfectin adjuvant.

As per the deal, Bristol-Myers will utilize Vical’s technology for the generation of antibodies which have the potential to be used in therapeutic areas for human patients. Vical will also be responsible for the supply of specified quantities of Vaxfectin to Bristol-Myers. However, both parties did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.

Vical Inc. specializes in the research and development of biopharmaceutical drugs which are based on the company’s patented DNA delivery technologies. The DNA delivery technology has the potential to be used for the development of products for the prevention and treatment of life threatening diseases like cancer.

Vical reported that Vaxfectin has showed significant improvement in increasing the efficiency of the immunization process. Vaxfectin, a cationic lipid-based formulation, helps increase a vaccine’s ability to cause immune responses.

We note that apart from the agreement with Bristol-Myers, Vical Inc. also has licensing agreements with other companies related to its patented technologies. Some of these companies are Astellas Pharma Inc., Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK), Sanofi (SNY) and Aqua Health Ltd.  among other biopharmaceutical companies.

The license agreement with Astellas Pharma is for the development and commercialization of the candidate TransVax. TransVax, a first-in-class DNA vaccine, is currently in a late stage study for the prevention of cytomegalovirus (:CMV) reactivation in transplant recipients.

Astellas intends to commence a phase III study of TransVax in hematopoietic stem cell transplant (:HSCT) recipients in the second half of 2012. The company is also expecting to start a phase II study of TransVax for solid organ transplant (:SOT) recipients soon.

Our Recommendation

Currently, we have a Neutral recommendation on Vical Inc. The stock carries a Zacks #3 Rank (short-term ‘Hold’ rating).

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