Taking another shot at mRNA glory, CureVac inks oncology pact while keeping up with Covid work
CureVac may have lost out on the initial mRNA race to bring a Covid-19 vaccine to the market, but it’s still eager to prove that it has what it takes to be a serious player in the field.
As it updates investors on its second-generation vaccine candidates for infectious diseases in Q1 results, the German biotech says it’s beefing up its oncology pipeline.
To that end, it has struck a new collaboration with Belgium’s myNEO, which boasts of a neoantigen discovery and selection platform, to identify new targets for mRNA immunotherapies.
Building on what it describes as “recent technology platform advances,” CureVac said its oncology expansion will feature a portfolio of cancer vaccines to complement the current work, including a Phase I TLR7/8/RIG-1 agonist.
On the infectious disease side, the company is continuing work on new mRNA vaccines with partners at GSK. While its previous candidates, including the second-generation Covid shot CV2CoV, leverages non-chemically modified mRNA, it expects to begin clinical programs for influenza and Covid-19 based on modified mRNA later this year. The differences in unmodified and modified mRNA had long been a point of debate within the space.
Because of the winding down of its first-generation Covid-19 program, CureVac added, it has transferred the production capacity it reserved at a contract manufacturing organization to GSK. The pharma partner paid €32.5 million as reimbursement of pre-payments and production setup activities at the CMO.
“We have resolved the majority of our past commitments and are now focusing on controlling costs and effectively driving momentum for key programs with a strong focus on our second-generation mRNA backbone in vaccines and oncology as well as on manufacturing,” said CFO Pierre Kemula.