Roche redoubles cancer vaccine efforts with Vaccibody deal

Today’s deal with Vaccibody suggests that Roche is convinced of a future for cancer vaccines. The two groups are to co-develop individualised neoantigen cancer vaccines for multiple tumour types based on Vaccibody’s VB10.NEO, a project where neoepitopes specific to a patient’s tumour are introduced to the patient. Theoretically this prompts a cellular immune response specific to neoantigens expressed by each patient’s cancer. Four years ago Roche cut a similar deal with Biontech, based on mRNA cancer vaccine technology. But in an indication of just how hard it is to get cancer vaccines to work the resulting project, RO7198457, only yielded data this June, and mediocre data at that. Though Vaccibody says VB10.NEO is exclusively licensed to Roche the vaccine is also in a multi-cancer phase I/II trial in combination with bempegaldesleukin, under an extension of a collaboration with Nektar dating from 2018. The trial recently completed enrolling 50 subjects and is scheduled to complete in March 2024, though data will likely emerge piecemeal; Roche will be hoping for stronger signals this time around. 

Selected neoantigen cancer vaccine deals
Date Partners Purpose of collaboration Up-front + near-term payments ($) Subsequent milestones ($)
Oct 1, 2020 Roche & Vaccibody Develop neoantigen vaccines based on VB10.NEO in multiple cancers 200 510
Sep 20, 2018 Vaccibody & Nektar Evaluate VB10.NEO + bempegaldesleukin in head & neck cancer Not disclosed
Sep 21, 2016 Roche & Biontech  Develop mRNA vaccines targeting neoantigens based on Biontech's Mutanome platform for multiple cancers 310 Not disclosed
Source: company releases.

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