Renewed focus on cancer: COVID-19 vaccine company BioNTech SE (Nasdaq: BNTX) and Ryvu Therapeutics S.A., located in Krakow (Warsaw Stock Exchange: RVU), a Polish clinical-stage cancer therapeutics development company, announced that the companies have entered into a research collaboration for several multi-target immunotherapy programmes, as well as an exclusive licensing agreement for Ryvu's STING agonist portfolio as stand-alone small molecules.
BioNTech SE and Ryvu Therapeutics S.A. announced that the companies have entered into a multi-target research collaboration targeting immune modulation in cancer and potentially other disease areas based on targets selected by BioNTech. Ryvu will receive €40 million from BioNTech, comprised of a €20 million upfront payment and an equity investment of €20 million, as well as research funding. Additionally, Ryvu is eligible to receive R&D and commercial milestone payments in addition to low single-digit royalties.
The global collaboration will consist of two parts: BioNTech will receive a global, exclusive license to develop and commercialize Ryvu’s STING agonist portfolio as standalone small molecules, including as monotherapy and in therapeutic combinations. In addition, BioNTech and Ryvu will jointly undertake drug discovery and research projects to develop multiple small molecule programs directed at exclusive targets selected by BioNTech, primarily focused on immune modulation within oncology, with potential applications in other disease areas. BioNTech has the option to license global development and commercialization rights to these programs at the development candidate stage.
“Small molecules targeting novel immune signaling pathways have a great potential to increase the efficacy of cancer immunotherapies,” said Prof. Ugur Sahin, M.D., Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of BioNTech. “The collaboration with Ryvu provides us with the opportunity to complement our immunotherapy pipeline with a portfolio of potent immunomodulatory molecules.”
“Ryvu is excited to bring its expertise in immuno-oncology to work with a global leader in the development of immunomodulatory targeted therapies,” said Pawel Przewiezlikowski, Chief Executive Officer, Ryvu. “BioNTech’s expertise in immunomodulatory mechanisms is a great match for Ryvu’s platform, and we fully expect to develop differentiated, therapeutically effective and safe molecules with our combined expertise.”
In addition to these programs, BioNTech will receive a global, exclusive license to develop and commercialize Ryvu’s STING agonist portfolio as standalone small molecules. STING protein is one of the major players in innate immune activation being a potent trigger of type I interferon (IFN) and pro-inflammatory cytokines. STING agonists facilitate cancer antigen recognition specific to individual patient and his own tumour giving a hope for highly personalized immunotherapy. Additionally, STING agonists promote tumour infiltration by CD8+ T cells, immune system mobilization and long-term memory. The agents kill malignant cells and simultaneously convert them into a cancer-specific therapeutic vaccine.