In September 2022 LABIOTECH.EU announced that a partnership between European biotech companies had been awarded a €1.06 million grant from EUREKA Eurostars. CimCure BV, a Dutch Biotech, Covalab, a French biotech, Amsterdam UMC, and the University of Zurich have accumulated a total budget of €2.24 million, which includes partner investments.
Eurostars is described by EUREKA as the “largest international funding programme for SMEs wishing to collaborate on R&D projects that create innovative products, processes, or services for commercialisation”. EUREKA is an intergovernmental network across 37 countries.
The winning project
Coordinated by CimCure, this project aims to develop a new treatment against glioblastoma. Glioblastoma (GBM) is a complex, often treatment-resistant cancer, which accounts for up to half of all primary malignant brain tumours.
The project is focused on a combination therapy that comprises CimCures iBoost vaccines and CAR-T cells against GBM. It is called ‘Optimal Synergistic Immunotherapy Strategy (OpSIS)’ and will last around 36 months in the Netherlands and Switzerland, as well as the facilities of Covalab and CimCure.
The aim, according to LABIOTECH.EU is to “deliver preclinical proof of concept” for a “novel combination of immunotherapy treatment” for GBM. The next step will be to “provide validation for translation of this strategy in GBM patients”.
“This project strives to demonstrate the efficacy, long-term persistence, and synergistic ability of combining GMB-targeting CAR-T cells with tumour vasculature-targeting vaccines.”
The project gained encouraging data from an initial study by Amsterdam UMC and the Medical Centre for Animals (MCD). A vaccine against bone cancer was “successful in an efficacy study in client-owned dogs”. Published in Nature Communications in May 2022, the results revealed that it is “safe and effective” in murine animal models and in dogs. With CimCure’s iBoost vaccine-based cancer immunotherapy, the consortium is hoping to replicate these results in humans.
Said El Alaoui, CEO and founder of Covalab said that they are “excited” to bring “extensive expertise in antibody engineering” to the project.
“Additionally, our platforms in molecular biology, immunology, and bioproduction will support the preclinical validation of therapeutic molecules and we can use our know-how in anticancer immunotherapy for this unique combination therapy project in oncology.”
Diedrick Engbersen is CEO at CimCure. He believes this is a “unique opportunity” to tackle a “disease with a dismal clinical outcome”.
“The collaboration with Covalab, the University of Zurich, and Amsterdam UMC is unique and promises major achievements.”
The group will aim to have the combination therapy “ready to enter regulatory procedures for testing patients”.