Curevac acquires Frame Cancer Therapeutics for 32 million euros

Novel antigen discovery platform for cancer vaccine development

The acquisition expands Curevac's capacity and expertise to further expand its oncology strategy for new therapies that enable patients' immune systems to fight cancer.

Curevac is acquiring privately held Frame Cancer Therapeutics, which focuses on advanced genomics and bioinformatics to identify both unique and common neoantigens for various cancers. "Embedding Frame's technology and expertise into Curevac's oncology research complements our ability to identify and validate promising neoantigens for our mRNA cancer vaccine programs," emphasized Franz-Werner Haas, chief executive officer of Curevac.

“The bioinformatics platform developed by Frame’s researchers has the potential to identify a broad panel of neoantigens that go beyond conventional neoantigens and could strongly increase the likelihood of developing highly effective cancer vaccines. We are excited to join forces with the innovative Frame Cancer Therapeutics team and combine their bioinformatics capabilities with our own mRNA expertise to potentially deliver a new class of cancer vaccines.” As a biopharmaceutical company, Curevac is developing a new class of drugs based on messenger ribonucleic acid, or mRNA.

Platform promotes development of broadly applicable cancer vaccines

Frame's Framepro platform identifies structural changes within a cancer genome that lead to new open reading frames. These lead to novel proteins that are absent in healthy tissue and thus can be recognized as foreign by the immune system. Although these genetic changes are highly specific to individuals, the resulting neoantigenic proteins can be passed from many patients. This could potentially enable the development of widely applicable cancer vaccines. Another application of the Frame technology is the development of personalized cancer vaccines, allowing the full antigenic potential of a tumor to be exploited. In December 2021, regulatory authorities in the Netherlands approved Frame's clinical trial protocol to evaluate the peptide vaccine-based approach in 15 patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Curevac will refocus the development of mRNA-based personalized cancer vaccines.

Curevac invests 32 million euros in acquisition

"We are excited about the great synergies between our content-driven approach to antigen discovery and validation and Curevac's extensive experience in mRNA vaccine development," says Ronald Plasterk, founder and CEO of Frame Cancer Therapeutics. "The resulting vaccines could significantly enhance our ability to activate the human immune system against cancer in both personalized and standardized ways." The total consideration for the Frame Therapeutics acquisition is 32 million euros and will be paid in Curevac shares. After an upfront payment of 50 percent, the remaining amount will be allocated to the achievement of two project milestones. Curevac will expand its antigen discovery and validation activities at the Amsterdam Science Park.