News

GSK/CureVac Covid Candidate Shines in Animal Tests

17.08.2021 - CV2Cov, the next-generation Covid-19 vaccine under development by German biotech CureVac and UK drugs giant GSK, outperformed CureVac’s first-generation Covid shot in preclinical trials with non-human primates, the companies have reported.

The collaboration partners, who plan to begin a Phase 1 trial with the new vaccine candidate in the upcoming fourth quarter, added that it was tested against the Beta, Delta, Kappa and Lambda variants, as well as the original Alpha strain.

CureVac’s initial Covid vaccine, called CVnCoV, recently disappointed with a 47% efficacy rate in a phase 2/3 trial, and the company’s plans to apply to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for conditional marketing authorization are now in limbo.

GSK said the just unveiled study, which provided evidence for strongly improved immune responses, assessed cynomolgus macaques vaccinated with 12µg of either the first or second-generation vaccine candidate.

Better activation of innate and adaptive immune responses was achieved with CV2CoV, resulting in faster response onset, higher titers of antibodies, and stronger memory B and T cell activation as compared to the first-generation CVnCoV, the British pharma said.

 Across all selected variants, animals vaccinated with CV2CoV were found to be better protected based on highly effective clearance of the virus in the lungs and nasal passages. “In this animal model, CV2CoV was shown to induce broad antibody and cellular immune responses very similar to the breadth of the immune responses observed after infection with SARS-CoV-2,” said CureVac’s chief scientific officer, Igor Splawski.

 Rino Rappuoli, chief scientist and head of GSK Vaccines R&D, added that “the strong immune response and protection in pre-clinical testing of this second-generation mRNA backbone are very encouraging and represent an important milestone for its further development.”

The Covid collaboration between the German and British companies extends their existing strategic mRNA technology partnership begun in July 2020. This focuses on development of new products based on CureVac’s second-generation RNA technology for different targets in the field of infectious diseases and is seen as having the potential for a multivalent or combination approach to address multiple emerging virus variants in one vaccine.

Boehringer Withdraws from CureVac Cooperation

In other news, CureVAc said in its quarterly earnings report that German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim has withdrawn from a $600 million joint project dating from 2014 that focused on an mRNA approach to cancer treatment.

At the time, the plans called for the Tübingen-based biotech to receive $45 million upfront, followed by milestone payments of up to $556 million. Boehringer had also secured global sales rights to a therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer, which it planned to pair with its own Gilotrif (afatanib) for non-small cell lung cancer.

CureVac said the drugmaker terminated the agreement in June, with effect from November this year. “The legacy program, targeting specific immune responses against tumor-associated antigens frequently overexpressed in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), applies an older protamine formulation technology, which reflected the state of the technology development at the time," it said.

The biotech noted, however, that a phase 1/2 test in NSCLC with the substance as a combo therapy “is ongoing,” and that both companies “are currently assessing options to continue a collaboration on CureVac’s RNA technology platform based on state-of-the-art LNP-based formulations.”

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist

Social Media

LinkedIn | Twitter

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Newsletter

We keep you posted - Subscribe to the CHEManager International newsletter here!

Social Media

LinkedIn | Twitter

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Newsletter

We keep you posted - Subscribe to the CHEManager International newsletter here!