CureVac N.V. announced its acquisition of Frame Cancer Therapeutics, a private company focused on advanced genomics and bioinformatics to identify both unique and shared neoantigens across different cancer types.
“The addition of Frame’s technology and talent to CureVac’s oncology research complements our ability to identify and validate promising neoantigens for our mRNA cancer vaccine programs,” said 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.”
Frame’s FramePro platform identifies structural changes within the cancer genome that give rise to new open reading frames. These new open reading frames result in novel proteins that are absent in healthy tissues and can thereby be recognized as foreign by the immune system. Although these genetic changes are highly specific to individuals, the resulting neoantigenic proteins may be shared among many patients, potentially enabling development of more broadly applicable cancer vaccines.
An additional application of Frame’s technology is the development of personalized cancer vaccines, thereby leveraging the full antigenic potential of a tumor. In December 2021, regulators in the Netherlands approved Frame’s clinical trial protocol to evaluate this approach based on a peptide vaccine in 15 patients with non-small cell lung cancer. CureVac will refocus development of personalized cancer vaccines on an mRNA modality.
“We are very enthusiastic about the great synergies between our content-driven approach in antigen discovery and validation and CureVac’s extensive experience with mRNA vaccine development,” said Ronald Plasterk, Founder and CEO of Frame Cancer Therapeutics. “The resulting vaccines could greatly enhance our ability to activate the human immune system against cancer, both in a personalized and off-the-shelf manner.”
The total consideration for the acquisition of Frame Therapeutics is valued at €32 million. It will be paid in CureVac shares. Following a 50 percent upfront payment, the residual amount will be split across two project milestone driven steps. CureVac will expand the antigen discovery and validation activities at the Amsterdam Science Park.