GERMANY – German biopharmaceutical company CureVac has acquired Frame Cancer Therapeutics, a private company focused on advanced genomics and bioinformatics, for 32 million euros (approx. US$34 million).
The total consideration will be paid in CureVac shares. Following a 50 percent upfront payment, the residual amount will be split across two project milestone driven steps.
The company, which develops a new class of transformative medicines based on messenger ribonucleic acid or mRNA, noted that Frame’s platform offers potential to develop off-the-shelf and personalized cancer vaccines targeting novel families of neoantigens.
With this acquisition, CureVac said it will refocus the development of personalized cancer vaccines on an mRNA modality, and will also expand the antigen discovery and validation activities at the Amsterdam Science Park.
Having missed out on the COVID-19 vaccine windfall enjoyed by its mRNA rivals BioNTech and Moderna, CureVac has begun looking to a next-generation coronavirus candidate and to cancer vaccines to reignite its business.
Last month, the German biotech struck a deal with myNEO to find specific antigens on the surface of tumors for the development of mRNA immunotherapies.
In return for the outlay, CureVac is gaining control of a platform for identifying structural changes within the cancer genome.
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.
By identifying changes that create new open reading frames, the biotech is hoping to zero in on novel proteins that are absent from healthy tissues and are therefore recognized as foreign by the immune system.
The genetic changes that give rise to new open reading frames are specific to individual patients. Yet, if CureVac is right, the resulting neoantigenic proteins may be shared across many patients, enabling their use in cancer vaccines that are more broadly applicable.
An additional application of Frame’s technology is the development of personalized cancer vaccines, thereby leveraging the full antigenic potential of a tumor.
Prior to the acquisition, Frame began applying its technology to the development of personalized cancer vaccines, securing clearance to start a phase 1 clinical trial of the neoantigen-based FRAME-001 in non-small cell lung cancer patients last year.
CureVac plans to “refocus development of personalized cancer vaccines on an mRNA modality.”
The recent cancer vaccine deals expand CureVac’s capabilities in a long-standing area of interest. Going into 2017, CureVac was focused on the prostate cancer vaccine CV9104.
The failure of a phase 2b trial torpedoed the candidate, but CureVac has retained an interest in the modality.
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