Company Background

Vical Incorporated is a biopharmaceutical firm that researches and develops vaccines based on its DNA delivery technology, which uses portions of the genetic code of a pathogen to induce an immune response. Vical has a number of drug candidates in its pipeline that it is developing independently and through corporate and government collaborations. Its pipeline is focused on infectious disease, cancer immunotherapies and cardiovascular disease (1).

Headquartered in San Diego, CA, Vical is independently pioneering the development of paradigm-changing DNA vaccines and cancer immunotherapies, and is partnering with such industry leaders as Merck, sanofi-aventis, Novartis, Astellas, AnGes, Merial and the NIH (2a).

Suppliers and Buyers

Vical manufactures its own supply of plasmids used in its DNA vaccines and offers contract manufacturing to other pharmaceutical companies and government agencies for an additional revenue stream. Some of Vical's contract manufacturing customers include IPPOX Foundation to manufacture plasmid DNA vaccines against HIV and the Navy Medical Research Center for the development of a dengue (an infectious tropical disease) DNA vaccine formulated with Vical's Vaxfectin (1).

Strategic Partnerships

Vical Inc. gets most of its revenues from a license agreement for TransVax (designed to prevent reactivation of disease after a transplant) with Astellas Pharma.  Vical holds other collaborative and licensing agreements with Merck & Co, Sanofi, the National Institutes of Health, and AnGes. Licensee Merial markets the product in the US (1).

Innovation and Technology

Vical's proprietary core technology is based on plasmid DNA (pDNA), closed loops of DNA that encode any protein of interest. When injected into tissues such as skeletal muscle or the skin, cells take up pDNA and produce the encoded protein. This allows for pDNA to be used as the basis for a broad range of biopharmaceutical products: infectious disease vaccines (delivering antigens from viruses, bacteria, or parasites), cancer vaccines or immunotherapeutics (delivering tumor antigens or immunostimulatory proteins), and growth factors to stimulate angiogenesis and tissue repair in diseases such as cardiovascular disorders (2b).

Vical was developing Allovectin-7, an immunotherapy for metastatic melanoma (1).  However, a Phase 3 trial of the vaccine failed to demonstrate efficacy and the development of its melanoma vaccine has ended. The company said the underlying technology was sound, and it would continue to be tested for infectious diseases. The company had been developing Allovectin for nearly 20 years (3). As a result, Vical announced in 2013 that it plans to lay off 47 employees to cut costs after ending development of its melanoma vaccine, Allovectin.  Vical said the layoffs, about 39 percent of its workforce, will leave the company with about 74 employees (3).


  • Angiogenesis
  • Cancer immunotherapies
  • Infectious disease vaccines
  • Pipeline (1).


  1. Hoover’s Inc. (2013). “Vical Incorporated.” Retrieved on October 10, 2013.
  2. Vical Inc. (2013). Retrieved on October 10, 2013
    1. “About Us” from
    2. “DNA Technology” from
  3. The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC (2013, August 22).  “Vical lays off 47.” Retrieved on October 10, 2013 from