Vaccine: CV9201
Company: CureVac
Target: Non-small cell lung cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common form of lung cancer, and is often triggered by smoking. The outcomes vary, but the prognosis is fairly poor for people with stage IIIB and stage IV disease. The German vaccine company, CureVac, has studied its mRNA-based cancer vaccine, CV9201, in this group of heavily pretreated patients, and found that the vaccine was safe, and triggered an immune response after 5 doses between the layers of the skin (intradermal injection).

The vaccine triggered an immune responses to all of the antigens, and of the 46 people tested, 65% reacted to at least one antigen. The Phase I/IIa trial was a small one, and wasn't designed to look at therapeutic responses, but the results back up an early Phase I/IIa trial of the company's prostate cancer vaccine, CV9103, which triggered an immune response, and stabilized rising PSA levels in some patients.

CV9201 uses CureVac's RNActive technology, which combines the antigenic and adjuvant properties of mRNA to activate both antibody-based and cell-based immune responses. The vaccines are based on mRNA that is taken up by the cells, where it is "translated" into the target antigen protein, with extra modifications that trigger a stronger immune response. This means that the vaccine does not need an additional adjuvant.

Sanofi Pasteur has inked a €150 million deal with CureVac to use CureVac's RNActive technology platform to develop therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines for infectious diseases.

However, Sanofi is not CureVac's only prestigious backer--the co-founder of software group SAP, German multibillionaire Dietmar Hopp, has invested €80 million ($104 million) in CureVac through his investment group, dievini Hopp BioTech Holding. This money will help advance development of CureVac's two lead RNActive cancer vaccines, against prostate cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.