Evaxion Biotech has announced an expanded commitment to developing precision cancer vaccines by targeting a novel category of tumour antigens called endogenous retroviruses (ERVs). These will be identified with the company’s proprietary target discovery AI-Immunology platform, and proof-of-concept data is expected later this year.
Evaxion Biotech is harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to spearhead advancements in cancer vaccine development. Traditionally, developing vaccines has been a slow and labour-intensive process. However, thanks to Evaxion’s AI-driven approach to analyse vast amounts of data and predict potential vaccine targets, the company can significantly accelerate the identification and development of effective vaccines against various types of cancer.
AI-Immunology platform for drug target discovery
This is possible thanks to the company’s proprietary AI target discovery and development platform, AI-Immunology. Through this technology, Evaxion has already placed two cancer vaccine candidates in clinical development, EVX-01 and EVX-02. These were discovered through the PIONEER neoantigen AI prediction model.
PIONEER is not the only prediction model for the discovery of personalised cancer therapy targets. Last year, Evaxion announced ObsERV – a prediction model focused on the identification of patient-specific targets, based on ancient viral remnants in our genes, so-called endogenous retroviruses or ERVs. Read more about ObsERV and its potential here.
New source of AI-discovered targets
Since the announcement, the Danish TechBio company has placed more focus on refining its business development strategy. With this goal in mind, Christian Kanstrup was hired as CEO last September. According to Kanstrup, Evaxion’s new focus on value creation will revolve around a three-pronged business model, with the AI-Immunology platform at its core. The three pillars being targets, pipeline and responders – all of which will be suitable for partnerships. Read more here, and watch an interview with Kanstrup here, where he discusses this strategy in more detail.
Speaking of targets, at the 65th ASH Annual Meeting last December, Evaxion unveiled a new precision cancer vaccine concept in haematological malignancies and selected solid cancers using ERVs as targets. According to the company, using ERVs as targets may enable treating patients who are unresponsive to conventional cancer immunotherapy.
“Broadening the horizons of cancer vaccine applicability”
Evaxion has announced that it will broaden its commitment to the new concept. The company has initiated preclinical activities intending to generate proof-of-concept data with ERV targets by the second half of 2024.
Evaxion’s Chief Scientific Officer, Birgitte Rønø, expresses optimism about this new potential in cancer vaccine development in a recent press release:
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»With our intensified focus on ERV cancer vaccines, we aim to expedite the development process to deliver treatment solutions to cancer patients who, until now, have been deemed unresponsive to immunotherapy. The ERV cancer vaccine targets represent a promising breakthrough that could significantly broaden the horizons of cancer vaccine applicability and marks a significant step forward in our commitment to improving healthcare through innovative and AI-powered approaches. We are already seeing significant interest in ERV-based vaccines and look forward to further underpinning the significant potential by these Proof-of-Concept data.«