Biontech follows Immatics and goes after Prame

Biontech’s latest low-key foray into cell therapy, giving Medigene €26m ($29m) for a Prame-directed engineered T-cell receptor asset, might have been inspired by Immatics. A late-breaker at last year’s SITC conference covering Immatics’ anti-Prame TCR IMA203 had shown an impressive, albeit short-lived, 50% remission rate in solid tumours. Biontech now has rights to Medigene’s next-generation Prame-targeting TCR MDG1014, which additionally incorporates a switch receptor converting a negative PD-1 signal from cancer cells into a 4-1BB co-stimulatory one, an approach thought to be necessary to boost activity in solid tumours. Medigene retains rights to its initial anti-Prame construct, MDG1011, whose phase 1 haematological cancer study recently showed reasonable safety and some effect on biomarkers, though the only remission was not sustained. It is notable that Bellicum and Glaxosmithkline/Adaptimmune’s efforts to develop TCRs against Prame both fell on stony ground, and the only other commercial effort targeting this antigen is Immunocore’s IMC-F106C. Medigene stock this morning shot up 90%, giving it a valuation of just over €90m. The obvious question is why did Biontech, flush with Covid vaccine cash, not simply buy Medigene out?

Selected Biontech adoptive cell therapy work
Project Source Description Target Status
BNT211 Internal Car-T therapy Claudin-6 Ph1/2 in CLDN6+ve solid tumours
BNT221 (NEO-PTC-01) Neon Unmodified cell therapy Neoantigens Ph1 in melanoma
BNT212 Internal Car-T therapy Claudin-18.2 Preclinical (pancreatic cancer)
NEO-STC-01 Neon Unmodified cell therapy Ras G12X neoantigens Preclinical (Ras+ve pancreatic cancer)
MDG1014 Medigene TCR therapy (PD-1/4-1BB switch receptor) Prame Preclinical
Unnamed Lilly deal TCR therapy Undisclosed Unclear
Note: all projects autologous. Source: company information.

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