TUBINGEN, Germany and BRUSSELS, March 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- CureVac, a German clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, today announced that it has won the inaugural European Commission Vaccine Prize. The EU has dedicated the prize of two million Euros in an effort to stimulate innovative solutions for vaccine transportation and storage where cold chain cannot be guaranteed. CureVac's RNActive® vaccine technology, based on messenger RNA (mRNA), convinced the panel of judges of its potential as a novel vaccine platform with the ability to revolutionize the way vaccines will be developed, manufactured and distributed around the world. As a result of their exceptional stability, RNActive® vaccines eliminate the demand for cold chain logistics.
The delivery of vaccines from manufacturer to recipient can take up to 18 months and, for most vaccines, the doses must be kept at a constant and cool temperature. This requires a stable cold chain, which is logistically difficult to achieve as well as expensive. The European Commission has offered the Vaccine Prize for innovations which have the potential to solve this global health problem that is especially challenging in tropical and developing countries with poor infrastructures and where life-saving vaccines can be easily damaged during transportation and storage.
RNActive® vaccines represent a novel technology for the production of safe, efficacious and cost-effective vaccines that are protected against elevated temperature as well as inadvertent freezing. On the basis of CureVac's vaccine technology, it is possible to rapidly produce the mRNA-based vaccines against almost any infectious disease and deliver these to the most remote areas of the world without observing the cold chain. CureVac operates its own multi-product GMP facility that allows the production of all mRNA vaccines from one common platform.
In vivo data published by CureVac and the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute in Nature Biotechnology (Dec 2012) showed that RNActive® prophylactic vaccines induced balanced, long-lived and protective immunity to influenza A virus infections in various animal models.
Penny Heaton, Director of Vaccine Development within the Global Health Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and member of the Vaccine Prize Jury, announced, "The vaccine prize jury selected CureVac as the winner of the European Commission's first inducement prize in recognition of their achievement of the prize conditions and their development of an innovative technology with the potential for a large and positive impact on public health."
Ingmar Hoerr, chief executive officer and co-founder of CureVac, said: "We are extremely honored that the jury has recognized our results of more than 14 years development of RNActive® vaccines as the biggest leap forward in vaccine technology. Our vaccine technology platform reflects nature's mode of action. By analyzing and adapting the natural evolution and functions of mRNA, we have established safe and potent minimal vaccines, easy to administer with no requirement of any additional immune stimulating adjuvant. We are currently developing RNActive® vaccines against different infectious diseases in preclinical and clinical studies. Thanks to all of our contributing friends and collaborators. We are very confident that we and our partners have an outstanding opportunity to be the first to bring an mRNA-based vaccine to market."
The entries for the Vaccine Prize were judged by a jury composed of leading experts with a variety of professional experience in vaccine research and development, regulation, use, formulation and preservation.
CureVac's RNActive® vaccines are based on optimized, antigen-encoding and complexed mRNA molecules that stimulate the immune system. RNActive® is currently being clinically investigated as prophylactic vaccines for infectious diseases as well as cancer immunotherapies.
CureVac's technology platform allows overcoming limitations such as the instability of single-stranded RNA, including mRNA. By optimizing the molecule, its stability is improved while translation levels are enhanced without changing the amino acid sequence of the corresponding protein. CureVac only uses naturally occurring nucleotides as building blocks for its mRNA-based products. The immunogenicity of the molecule is achieved by proprietary formulations.
CureVac, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company from Tübingen, Germany, is pioneering the field of RNA-based technology platforms for medical purposes with which RNA is specifically optimized and formulated. Since 2000 the company develops novel therapeutic mRNA vaccines (RNActive®) for cancer and prophylactic vaccines for infectious diseases. Furthermore CureVac develops adjuvants based on non-coding RNAs (RNAdjuvant®) for enhancing the immune response of other vaccines.
The company has successfully completed Phase I/IIa clinical studies with its RNActive® cancer vaccines in prostate cancer and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Results so far have shown that mRNA-based products were safe and capable of inducing balanced immune responses including humoral and cellular, Th1 and Th2 and effector and memory responses. A large randomized Phase IIb clinical trial in castrate resistant prostate cancer with CV9104 has been fully enrolled in December 2013.
In addition to developing its own pipeline, CureVac is amongst others collaborating with Sanofi Pasteur, In-Cell-Art, DARPA and Janssen Pharmaceuticals for the development of prophylactic vaccines in infectious diseases utilizing its RNActive® technology platform. CureVac also collaborates with Cancer Research Institute and Ludwig Cancer Research to enable clinical testing of novel cancer immunotherapy treatment options.
CureVac thanks the collaborators from the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute for the fruitful cooperation that has led to some significant results on RNActive® prophylactic vaccines.
The research leading to these results has received funding from the BMBF KMU Innovative Programme managed by PTKA under the Grant Agreement 02PK2178 and by PTJ under the Grant Agreement 0315802.
Dr. Martina Schwarzkopf
Russo Partners, New York
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Verena Lauterbach, Manager Communications
CureVac GmbH, Tübingen, Germany
T: +49 (0) 7071 920 53 756