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Boehringer Ingelheim, CureVac collaborate on lung cancer immunotherapy

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Boehringer Ingelheim and CureVac, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company based in Tubingen, Germany, have announce an exclusive global license and development collaboration. The new collaboration focuses on CureVac’s CV9202, a novel investigational therapeutic mRNA vaccine in early clinical development for the treatment of lung cancer.

Boehringer Ingelheim will start clinical investigation of CV9202 in at least two different lung cancer settings, in combination with afatinib in patients with advanced or metastatic epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutated non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and in combination with chemo-radiation therapy in patients with unresectable stage III NSCLC. CureVac will receive approximately $45 million. Further, CureVac can achieve milestone payments of up to approximately $556 million and royalties on sales.

This new agreement is part of Boehringer Ingelheim’s long-term commitment to delivering cancer therapies through the discovery of novel treatment options with high therapeutic value for patients. The company’s oncology portfolio includes afatinib, a once-daily kinase inhibitor that irreversibly binds and inhibits ErbB1, ErbB2 and ErbB4 receptors and is approved in a number of markets including the E.U. and U.S. In the U.S., afatinib is marketed as Gilotrif for the first-line treatment of common types of EGFR-mutation positive metastatic NSCLC (Del 19 or L858R).

Boehringer Ingelheim’s oncology pipeline covers a broad range of solid tumors and hematologic malignancies (blood cancer), including two investigational compounds in phase III clinical development: nintedanib in NSCLC and colorectal cancer, and volasertib in acute myeloid leukemia. These compounds are not approved, and their safety and efficacy have not been established.

“In our collaboration with CureVac, we will investigate combining existing treatments with the approach of sustained activation of the immune system,” said professor Klaus Dugi, chief medical officer, Boehringer Ingelheim.

CureVac’s mRNA-based technology represents a potential novel approach in cancer treatment. For the first time mRNA could be optimized to mobilize the patient’s own immune system to fight the tumor with a specific immune response elicited through the RNActive vaccine. CV9202 is a combination of mRNA molecules coding for six antigens overexpressed in lung cancer, designed to induce an immune response against the tumor. CV9202 and the preceding RNActive cancer vaccine CV9201 tested in initial clinical trials by CureVac demonstrated activity in generating immune responses against all anti-tumor antigens.

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