Germany-based Boehringer Ingelheim has entered an exclusive global licence and development collaboration with CureVac to develop lung cancer immunotherapy.

As part of the deal, both companies will focus on the clinical development of CureVac’s CV9202, an investigational therapeutic mRNA vaccine for treatment of lung cancer.

CV9202 is a combination of mRNA molecules coding for six antigens over-expressed in lung cancer. It has been designed to induce an immune response against the tumour.

Upon signature, CureVac will receive €35m, as well as be eligible to receive milestone payments of up to €430m and royalties on sales, Boehringer said.

Boehringer Ingelheim chief medical officer professor Klaus Dugi said: "At Boehringer Ingelheim, we are proud of our commitment to help improve the treatment of cancers with a high medical need. In our collaboration with CureVac, we will investigate combining existing treatments with the approach of sustained activation of the immune system."

"We will investigate combining existing treatments with the approach of sustained activation of the immune system."

Clinical investigation on CV9202 will be carried out by Boehringer in two different lung cancer settings.

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The clinical trial will include a combination with afatinib in patients with advanced or metastatic epidermal growth factor (EGFR) mutated non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), as well as with chemo-radiation therapy in patients with unresectable stage III NSCLC.

CureVac co-founder and CEO Ingmar Hoerr said: "This collaboration is extremely relevant for CureVac because, as a biotech enterprise, we rely on collaboration with strong partners for the clinical development and commercialisation of our compounds.

"Cancer immunotherapy represents one of the biggest innovations in cancer treatment of recent times and we are delighted to now be working with Boehringer Ingelheim."

Boehringer produces Giotrif (afatinib), an irreversible ErbB family blocker that received approval in the EU, the US and Japan to treat distinct types of EGFR mutation-positive NSCLC.

Image: Boehringer Ingelheim chief medical officer professor Klaus Dugi. Photo: courtesy of Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH.