CureVac acquires Frame Cancer Therapeutics
Based in Amsterdam, Frame uses advanced genomics and bioinformatics to identify both unique and shared neoantigens across different cancer types.
The deal is valued at €32m ($34m): paid in CureVac shares. Following a 50% upfront payment, the residual amount will be split across two project milestone driven steps.
Potential to deliver a 'new class of cancer vaccines'
The acquisition is the latest step in CureVac's vision to expand its focus on cancer vaccines: applying the insights and findings gained from COVID-19 vaccine development to oncology.
“The addition of Frame’s technology and talent to CureVac’s oncology research complements our ability to identify and validate promising neoantigens for our mRNA cancer vaccine programs,” said Franz-Werner Haas, CEO of CureVac.
“The bioinformatics platform developed by Frame’s researchers has the potential to identify a broad panel of neoantigens that go beyond conventional neoantigens and could strongly increase the likelihood of developing highly effective cancer vaccines. We are excited to join forces with the innovative Frame Cancer Therapeutics team and combine their bioinformatics capabilities with our own mRNA expertise to potentially deliver a new class of cancer vaccines.”
Frame’s FramePro platform identifies structural changes within the cancer genome that give rise to new open reading frames. These new open reading frames result in novel proteins that are absent in healthy tissues and can thereby be recognized as foreign by the immune system. Although these genetic changes are highly specific to individuals, the resulting neoantigenic proteins may be shared among many patients, potentially enabling development of more broadly applicable cancer vaccines.
Of particular interest to CureVac is the tech’s use in developing personalized cancer vaccines. In December 2021, regulators in the Netherlands approved Frame’s clinical trial protocol to evaluate this approach based on a peptide vaccine in 15 patients with non-small cell lung cancer. One of CureVac’s first projects will be to refocus development of personalized cancer vaccines on an mRNA modality.
The company is also set to expand Frame’s antigen discovery and validation activities at the latter’s facility in Amsterdam Science Park.
Commenting on the acquisition, Ronald Plasterk, founder and CEO of Frame Cancer Therapeutics, said: “We are very enthusiastic about the great synergies between our content-driven approach in antigen discovery and validation and CureVac’s extensive experience with mRNA vaccine development.
“The resulting vaccines could greatly enhance our ability to activate the human immune system against cancer, both in a personalized and off-the-shelf manner.”
Last month CureVac entered into a partnership with myNEO: and it will use the partnership with the Belgium-based immunotherapy company to identify specific antigens found on the surface of tumors for the development of novel mRNA immunotherapies via myNEO’s biological datasets and integrated machine learning and bioinformatics platform.