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NEC OncoImmunity Acquires VAXIMM’s Neoantigen Vaccine Development Assets

NEC OncoImmunity (NOI), a subsidiary of NEC Corporation (NEC), and VAXIMM AG, a Swiss/German biotech company focused on developing an oral plug and play DNA vaccination technology to stimulate patients’ cytotoxic T-cells targeting a wide range of cancer-related antigens, announced that the companies have signed an agreement under which NOI will acquire all of VAXIMM’s neoantigen program assets.

Under the agreement, NOI will acquire VAXIMM’s neoantigen vaccine-related patents, license the requisite manufacturing patents, and will take over several existing contracts with key collaborators and partners. Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed. In 2019, the companies entered into a strategic clinical trial collaboration agreement and an equity investment agreement to develop novel personalized neoantigen cancer vaccines. VAXIMM retains rights to its first-in-class oral T-cell activation platform technology and all other product candidates, including VXM01, which is being developed for the treatment of glioblastoma.

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Commenting on the announcement, Richard Stratford, CEO of NOI, said, “We believe this is a transformative transaction for NOI/NEC. With it, NOI/NEC has acquired the rights to an attractive delivery platform with broad therapeutic potential in oncology and other areas. Following this acquisition, we expect to initiate the first clinical study delivering personalized neoantigens during 2022, which is an important milestone. Our unique artificial intelligence (AI) technology is focused on several attractive areas of unmet medical need with major market potential, and we now have the components in place to fully realize this significant commercial opportunity.”

Thomas D. Szucs, MD, Chairman of the Board of VAXIMM, said, “I am excited to see the progress that has been made in advancing our neoantigen program, already with the strong support of NEC as partner and investor. I congratulate the VAXIMM team, under Dr. Lubenau’s leadership, for bringing this important project to clinical testing stage. We are delighted that the NOI team will now take this program forward into the clinic with the goal of bringing a novel therapy to patients in desperate need of more treatment options.”

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Dr. Heinz Lubenau, CEO and Co-founder of VAXIMM, said, “We believe that NEC OncoImmunity is the ideal company to take VAXIMM’s novel neoantigen programs through development and hopefully to the market to help patients. The first project from our earlier collaboration utilizing NEC’s AI platform has received clinical trial approval in Europe, and we are excited that NEC will be putting its resources behind this and future neoantigen vaccine programs derived from VAXIMM’s novel technology.”

Motoo Nishihara, Executive Vice President, CTO (Chief Technology Officer) and Member of the Board, NEC Corporation, said, “Cancer and infectious diseases are two of the most serious healthcare challenges, with millions of new cases diagnosed worldwide annually. NEC’s core AI technology is well positioned for the development of personalized medicines, and we are strongly committed to delivering effective treatments for cancer patients and infectious diseases. We are confident that this acquisition of assets from VAXIMM will enable us to further develop our AI-optimized and personalized therapies to benefit the health of individual patients worldwide.”

The transaction expands NEC’s neoantigen drug development pipeline by broadening its focus into several compelling therapeutic areas with high unmet medical need. VAXIMM’s plug and play DNA vaccination technology is based on a live attenuated, safe, orally available bacterial vaccine strain, which is modified to stimulate patients’ cytotoxic T-cells to target a wide range of cancer-related antigens. The platform allows for fast and scalable manufacturing of personalized T-cell cancer vaccines and may overcome key challenges faced by many other approaches.

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[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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