Norwegian vaccine and immunotherapy biotech Vaccibody has changed its name to Nykode Therapeutics to “signify a new phase of growth and development,” and it started that phase with more than just PR speak.
Alongside the name change (PDF), usually of little interest outside of the company, the European biotech has penned a $30 million upfront (and $20 million equity investment) with U.S. biopharma giant Regeneron, which has also put down more than $875 million in biobucks.
The pact (PDF) sees Regeneron tap the biotech for three new vaccines for cancer and two infectious disease programs.
They are staying mum on targets for now, a commonplace silence for these type of deals, but Nykode said the vaccines “will combine Regeneron’s unique antigen selection expertise and innovative VelociSuite in vivo models with Nykode’s modular vaccine platform and expertise in vaccine design.”
Under the pact, Nykode will be responsible for vaccine generation and characterization as well as product supply through the end of phase 1 tests. Regeneron will be responsible for antigen identification, preclinical and clinical development, manufacturing (from the end of phase 1 trials) and sales work.
“We are very pleased to have entered into this groundbreaking agreement with Regeneron that may accelerate the expansion of our pipeline and fully leverage our unique and modular vaccine technology platform within multiple, large and commercially significant disease areas, in line with our corporate strategy,” said Michael Engsig, CEO of Nykode.
This is certainly a big deal for Nykode, though it has form penning big pacts with big companies: The biotech already has research collabs with Adaptive, inked just this summer and focused on new vaccine candidates for emerging variants of SARS-CoV-02, as well as pacts with Roche’s Genentech for cancer vaccine work and Nektar Therapeutics, which also zeroes in on cancer vaccines.
“Collaborating with Nykode Therapeutics will bring another dimension to Regeneron’s already robust research and development programs for oncology and infectious disease and, in particular, provides new opportunities to help people with challenging tumor types or infectious diseases with high unmet need,” added Gavin Thurston, Ph.D., senior vice president for oncology research at Regeneron.
“Nykode Therapeutics’ platform efficiently delivers vaccine payloads to antigen presenting cells and allows for vaccine candidates that can be easily manufactured. It has already shown robust CD8+ antigen-specific T cell responses in animal models and in patients with cancer. Combining their platform with our industry-leading VelociSuite technologies and expertise may help to accelerate this emerging and promising therapeutic approach.”