Novel mRNA targets in Immuno-onology is a top-shelf cancer R&D area, with Germany’s CureVac also attracting another €100M yesterday for their mRNA platform (which targets lung and prostate cancers as well as viruses) from major investors like the Gates Foundation and Baillie Gifford (from Scotland).
Sanofi will now use BioNTech’s mRNA platform to license 5 pre-clinical immunotherapy candidates for therapeutic development. However, BioNTech’s expertise expands beyond just mRNA disruptive therapies, with other areas exploring Chimeric antigen receptors (CAR-T) and T-cell receptor inhibitors (which they have already partnered on with Eli-Lilly) and general checkpoint inhibition using its UniCell Platform (more details here).
Another major collaborator includes Danish Genmab, which will work on developing novel bi-specific immunotherapies with BioNTech, as announced in May this year. To better understand the nuances of these therapy types in immuno-oncology you can read our review of cancer treatments.
BioNTech will be paid €55M upfront (which includes some of the close milestone payments) along with a potential €275M down the road for R&D and commercialization milestones and entitlement to tiered royalties should any of these candidates be viable. The option is also open for BioNTech to co-develop and co-commercialize 2 of these products across the EU and US later on.
Other focal areas of BioNTech include a Microscaffolding design for vaccine research known as the nano-particle based SAPHIR platform, a molecular diagnostics program, and a subsidiary of BioNTech (JPT Peptide Technologies in Berlin) for custom peptide products and profiling arrays.
BioNTech’s Oncology focus is derived through the Johannes-Gutenberg University of Mainz Medical Centre, where they have partnerships with the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy (CIMT) and the Translational Oncology department (TRON) at the Medical school there.
Founded only 4 years ago, this German biotech is certainly going places then. Last year they opened a massive 10,000 square metre research centre with Ganymed, also located on the Johannes-Gutenberg campus, as well as recently signing a deal with Tech Giant Siemens for another new production plant.
This latest deal will therefore be adding to their increasingly impressive Oncology portfolio.