Bavarian Nordic ends cancer vaccine program to fully focus on profitable infectious disease range

Bavarian Nordic may be celebrating its most profitable year yet on the back of mpox vaccine sales, but that hasn’t stopped the Danish biotech from streamlining its portfolio.

The vaccine company’s immuno-oncology project, dubbed TAEK-VAC, was undergoing a phase 1 trial in patients with advanced HER2 and brachyury-expressing cancers. But Bavarian said the program has now “reached a stage where clinical expansion and further investments would be required.”

“The company has decided to focus its future R&D efforts on infectious diseases through product improvements to remain competitive and new vaccine development,” the company explained in a full-year 2023 financial report Wednesday. “As a consequence, the TAEK-VAC project will not be continued, and the company has no further plans to invest in immuno-oncology vaccine development.”

TAEK-VAC was a tumor antibody enhanced therapeutic vaccine that used Bavarian’s MVA-BN platform. While therapeutic cancer vaccines are in the works at the likes of mRNA mainstay Moderna and Ultimovacs, Bavarian Nordic is now focused on more immediately lucrative options.

The Copenhagen-based biotech’s preliminary 2023 results “represent the best-ever financial result in the company’s history,” the company said. This jump was driven by “extraordinary growth” in its travel health range as well as a “surge” in sales of the dual smallpox/mpox vaccine Jynneos.

Bavarian’s approved travel health portfolio spans tick-borne encephalitis vaccine Encepur, GSK’s rabies vaccine Rabavert, cholera vaccine Vaxchora and typhoid vaccine Vivotif.

These combined to produce 2023 preliminary revenue of 7.06 billion Danish kroner ($1.02 billion), more than double the company’s 3.15 billion kroner ($460 million) haul for 2022 and overshooting Bavarian’s 6.9 billion kroner ($1 billion) guidance for last year.

“This historical result is an endorsement of the successful execution of the commercial strategy we initiated back in 2020 and the transition to one of the largest pure play vaccine companies in the world,” CEO Paul Chaplin said in the release.

“While the surge in demand for our smallpox/mpox vaccine is decreasing, in part due to the role our vaccine has played in reducing the mpox cases, the public preparedness base business has grown in the number of customers and the emerging private mpox business,” Chaplin added.

The company already shelved plans for a COVID-19 vaccine in September 2023 after phase 3 data showed the candidate struggled against newer variants of the virus. The decision came just months after Bavarian dropped a respiratory syncytial virus vaccine over a late-stage failure.