BioNTech will dedicate its huge fundraising to develop personalized cancer immunotherapies using CAR-T, TCR and mRNA technologies.
BioNTech is kicking off the new year with great news. The company has closed its Series A with $270M (€225M) — a record amount in Germany for such an early funding round. The fundraising was led by the Redmile Group, and joined, among many others, by the Strüngmann brothers, who are well-known in Germany for their investment in the pharmaceutical industry.
BioNTech has a strong focus in the development of individualized cancer vaccines based on mRNA technology. Indeed, the company has been the first to run a clinical trial with this new and promising technology, yielding impressive results in patients with relapsing melanoma. The round will help BioNTech conduct more clinical trials with this technology in multiple types of cancer and step up its competition with US-based Moderna, which recently launched a clinical trial with its own mRNA-based personalized cancer vaccine.
Aiming to offer truly personalized solutions for cancer, the company will also fund the development of CAR-T cell therapy and T-cell receptor (TCR) technologies. Both have shown great promise in the treatment of difficult forms of cancer, with the two first CAR-T therapies approved last year. TCRs have still not reached the market, but early-stage clinical data from British biotech Immunocore has shown its potential to increase the survival of patients with uveal melanoma.
Big names seem keen on BioNTech’s wide range of cancer immunotherapies, with Genentech, Sanofi and Bayer having partnered with the German biotech for the development of mRNA vaccines, while Eli Lilly is collaborating in the development of TCRs.
BioNTech seems convinced of the great therapeutic potential of immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer. Checkpoint inhibitors that “release the brakes” of the immune system against cancer cells have already proven very effective in a certain percentage of patients. And new technologies like mRNA, CAR-T and TCRs might take that percentage up. Given that cancer is a disease with a strong variability not just in different types of cancer but also between individuals with the same diagnosis, personalized treatments that specifically target each patient’s tumor seems to be the path to take us closer to win the battle against cancer.
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