BioNTech has expanded its strategic collaboration with Regeneron to advance the company’s FixVac candidate BNT116 in combination with Libtayo® (cemiplimab), a PD-1 inhibitor, in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Under the terms of the agreement the companies plan to jointly conduct clinical trials to evaluate their combination in different patient populations with advanced NSCLC. Lung cancer is worldwide one of the most common diagnosed malignant cancer types and the leading cause of cancer death. NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer, making up about 85% of all lung cancers.
“Advancing the sixth FixVac product candidate based on uridine mRNA into clinical development underlines the versatility and potential of this platform. Advanced NSCLC still has a five-year survival rate of only 25% leaving patients with very limited treatment options. We believe that a potent vaccine that induces strong T cell responses against shared tumor associated antigens combined with PD-1 blockade that further enables the activated T cell repertoire will help to address the high unmet medical need in this indication,” said Özlem Türeci, M.D., Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer at BioNTech.
“We look forward to further building on our successful collaboration with Regeneron to accelerate the clinical development of BNT116 in our growing mRNA oncology pipeline.”
The investigational mRNA-based cancer vaccine BNT116 is based on BioNTech’s FixVac platform. It consists of a fixed combination of shared tumor-associated antigens that were identified to be frequently expressed in NSCLC. The companies plan to develop the collaboration beginning with Phase 1/2 clinical trials in the first-line treatment setting in advanced NSCLC.
Under the terms of the agreement, BioNTech and Regeneron will equally share development costs for the trials. In addition, under a separate agreement, BioNTech plans to conduct and sponsor a Phase 1 clinical trial (LuCa-MERIT-1) evaluating the combination of BNT116 and Libtayo in further subpopulations with NSCLC.
“We are delighted to expand our collaboration with BioNTech to a third tumor type – advanced NSCLC – and investigate whether combining Libtayo with BNT116 will further enhance the efficacy and safety we’ve demonstrated with Libtayo in this cancer as both a monotherapy and in combination with chemotherapy,” said Israel Lowy, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Clinical Development, Oncology, at Regeneron.
“Combining PD-1 inhibition with mRNA-based vaccines is an exciting, yet still emerging, approach in oncology. This collaboration provides an opportunity for us to conduct scientifically sophisticated and pioneering clinical research in this space and investigate whether this novel combination may help drive a multi-faceted activation of the immune system against advanced NSCLC.”
The agreement follows the company’s existing collaboration evaluating the combination of BioNTech’s FixVac candidate BNT111 with Libtayo in advanced melanoma. BNT111 was granted U.S. FDA Fast Track Designation in November 2021 and is currently investigated in a randomized Phase 2 trial.
The trial was initiated in June 2021, following encouraging data from an exploratory interim analysis of the ongoing Phase 1 Lipo-MERIT study with BNT111 as monotherapy and in combination with PD-1 blockade, which was published in Nature. In addition, BioNTech is investigating and sponsoring a Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating the combination of Libtayo with the company’s FixVac candidate BNT112 in prostate cancer. Libtayo is being jointly developed by Regeneron and Sanofi.