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German Biotech and Genentech in battle for Cancer Vaccine


BioNTech has turned up the heat in the race to bring an mRNA immunotherapy for cancer to the clinic. The German biotech has partnered with American giant Genentech in a massive deal with almost €300M upfront.


images-2Europe’s largest private biotech, BioNTech, has partnered up with Genentech to produce individualized mRNA-based cancer therapies. The collaboration aims to apply Genentech’s expertise as a world leader in immuno-oncology to BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA cancer vaccine technology. The ultimate goal of the partnership is to bring a variety of highly specific cancer treatments tailored to individual patient needs to clinical trials.


Genentech paid €280M in upfront and milestone payments to gain access to BioNTech’s technology. The two companies will split manufacturing duties and developmental costs but divvy up commercial rights on a case-by-case basis: if Genentech decides not to avail itself of its share for a product, BioNTech will take over.



But this German biotech is no slouch. The company has developed a cancer vaccine platform that it calls IVAC (Individualized Vaccines Against Cancer) MUTANOME, for the mutations signature. Capitalizing on advances in gene technology, tumor genomes can be rapidly sequenced and represented by a unique series of mutations, called the mutanome.


This series can be targeted as a neoantigen by an mRNA-stimulated immune response that can then be developed into a highly specific and individualized treatment for cancer. If you’re curious, we interviewed the COO, Sean Marett, last year to hear more about the technology.

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