CureVac acquires Dutch oncology company

09 Jun 2022

CureVac acquires Dutch oncology company

The Tübingen-based mRNA company CureVac N.V. is taking over the Dutch biotech company Frame Cancer Therapeutics for €32m. The three-year-old company's specialization in cancer neoantigens is to complement CureVac's oncology portfolio, but the entire technology platform will not only be used for new targets but also for personalized treatment.

Under the headline " CureVac Accelerates Oncology Strategy", CureVac announced the acquisition of Frame Cancer Therapeutics. The Dutch company's FramePro platform identifies changes within a cancer genome through mutations that lead to new open reading frames (ORFs). These mediate a new amino acid sequence and thus translate into novel proteins that had not previously been found in healthy tissue. As a result, these "neoantigens" are recognized by the immune system as foreign and activate a whole cascade of defense mechanisms. Although these genetic alterations are highly specific to individuals, the hope of numerous companies and drug researchers in this sector is that generalizable neoantigens will potentially enable the development of broadly applicable cancer vaccines.

“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, Chief Executive Officer of CureVac. An additional application of Frame’s technology is the development of personalized cancer vaccines, thereby leveraging the full antigenic potential of a tumor. 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. CureVac will refocus development of personalized cancer vaccines on an mRNA modality.

“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,” said Ronald Plasterk, Founder and CEO of Frame Cancer Therapeutics.

Other news also shows that there has been no standstill at CureVac: Chief Development Officer, Klaus Edvardsen, will leave the company on June 30, 2022. Myriam Mendila will officially succeed him on February 1, 2023. Until then, Ulrike Gnad-Vogt, Senior Vice President Area Head Oncology, will fill the position on an interim basis. Both have long careers in oncology. The recent announcement by GSK to acquire the RNA company Affinivax (USA) for more than €3bn also attracted attention Among other things, it had been interpreted to mean that GSK would like to base its RNA activities on several partnerships. A signal that Tübingen is not idle is certainly not wrong.