Alongside its work on a second-generation mRNA vaccine program with GSK (initially targeted against COVID-19 and influenza with candidates in Phase 1 trials), CureVac will up its focus in oncology.
“We are translating the important insights and findings we have made in the development of mRNA technology to our oncology programs,” said Franz-Werner Haas, CEO, as the company released its Q1 2022 results this month.
As announced last week, the German mRNA company will enter a research and option agreement with Belgium-based immunotherapy company myNEO, Under the agreement, both companies aim to identify specific antigens found on the surface of tumors for the development of novel mRNA immunotherapies: leveraging myNEO’s biological datasets and its integrated machine learning and bioinformatics platform.
myNEO utilizes a broad range of underlying genomic alterations to identify constantly emerging, novel classes of antigens of defined tumor types. The immunogenicity of identified antigens is predicted using proprietary algorithms, machine and deep learning methods and an extensive database containing data on tumor specific mutations. Incorporating new ranking methodologies based on tumor cell antigen processing and presentation allows for selection of antigens with the highest confidence of success for potential clinical testing, according to the company.
Three pillars in oncology
The collaboration with myNEO, however, is just one of three pillars in the company's oncology efforts.
“Partnering with myNEO represents the first step in the targeted expansion of CureVac’s unique mRNA approach for the development of novel cancer vaccines,” notes the company.
“Taking advantage of recent technology platform advances, CureVac is developing the oncology area based on three strategic pillars. In addition to accessing novel classes of tumor antigens, these pillars include the validation and optimization of CureVac’s mRNA technology regarding strong induction of tumor-killing T cells. The company also plans to add complementary platforms for antigen discovery and improved vaccine design with a focus on efficient T cell activation. CureVac intends to leverage The RNA Printer, its automated end-to-end solution for smaller-scale, rapid manufacturing of GMP-grade mRNA vaccines and therapeutics.”