Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, and Vaccibody AS have struck an agreement to partner on the development of individualized neoantigen cancer therapies, based on their targeted therapeutic cancer vaccine candidate, VB10.NEO.
Headquartered in Norway, Vaccibody is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company and leader in the emerging field of cancer vaccines. The company is developing tailored therapies for cancer, infectious diseases and other areas with unmet needs.
"We are very excited to have entered into this transformative agreement that marks the start of a new era for Vaccibody,” Michael Engsig, CEO of Vaccibody, said in a statement. “Genentech is widely recognized as one of the foremost leaders in leveraging the immune system to develop therapies for cancer and is a scientific pioneer within the neoantigen cancer vaccine space. They are therefore the partner of choice for the further development and commercialization of our innovative next-generation cancer vaccine platform for generating individualized therapies."
Vaccibody boasts two clinical-stage product candidates. VB10.NEO is an investigational medicinal product (IMP) intended as a therapeutic vaccination for patients with locally advanced or metastatic solid tumors. The other is the company’s lead product candidate, VB10.16, a DNA-based immunotherapy targeting malignancies caused by Human Papilloma Virus 16 (HPV16).
VB10.NEO is a long name for a narrowly-focused – or tailored – DNA-based neoantigen vaccine which targets the patient’s own antigens based on tumor-specific mutations – or neoantigens.
The MIP-1α targeting unit used in VB10-NEO was selected for its ability to attract the immune system’s antigen-presenting cells (APC), and subsequently induce rapid, strong and dominant CD8 killer T cell responses. It is the same unit deployed in VB10.16.
"It is widely believed that the clinical use of cancer vaccines has been limited by the ability to efficiently present the antigens to the immune system and the limited insight into what constitutes clinically relevant antigens,” Agnete B. Fredriksen, Vaccibody’s co-founder, president & chief scientific officer, said in a statement. “Vaccibody's immunotherapy platform has been shown to address those challenges with preclinical and clinical data indicating induction of unique CD4+ and importantly CD8+ tumor-specific T cell responses against selected antigens essential for clinical responses."
Under the terms of the agreement, Vaccibody will receive $715 million, including initial upfront and near-term payments of $200 million. There is also future potential for milestone payments of up to $515 million in addition to low double-digit tiered royalties on the sale of commercialized products.
On November 5, 2019, Vaccibody announced positive initial clinical responses in patients with locally advanced or metastatic cancer treated with VB10-NEO in a Phase I/IIa clinical trial. The company will devote the new funds to furthering research and development for the cutting-edge therapy.