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EU Funds Personalized Brain Cancer Vaccine Effort

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A 14-member consortium of European companies and academic partners have been awarded €6 million ($7.7 million) from the EU to use genomics technologies to develop biomarker-driven personalized vaccines for glioma patients.

The German firms Immatics Biotechnologies and BioNTech will lead the Glioma Actively Personalized Vaccine Consortium (GAPVAC) project, Immatics said last week.

They and their partners plan to use next-generation sequencing, mass spectrometry, and immunomonitoring tools to develop and manufacture actively personalized vaccines (APVACS) that are tailored to individual tumors and patients' immune systems.

At the center of the GAPVAC project is a phase 1 clinical trial that will enroll up to 30 newly diagnosed glioblastoma patients beginning in 2014. These patients will be immunized repetitively with a vaccine that will be administered on top of standard chemotherapy after the surgical and initial radiochemotherapy phases are finished. The trial will be headed by investigators at the University of Heidelberg and the University of Geneva.

Immatics said it plans to use its antigen discovery platform to generate "a warehouse of tumor-associated peptides" that will be used to create the first of two APVACS that the patients will receive, while BioNTech will provide glioblastoma-expressed tumor-associated antigens to this warehouse.

The partners also will use next-generation sequencing and mass spectrometry to identify immunogenic tumor mutations that will be used to create a vaccine with patient-specific tumor mutated peptides.

Immatics said that BioNTech has already shown in preclinical models that using next-gen sequencing for genome-wide mutation identification followed by mutation-targeting vaccination is both feasible and can lead to tumor control.

The APVACs will be manufactured at the University of Tuebingen, and the peptide warehouse will be manufactured by BCN Peptides in Spain.