Bavarian Nordic Puts Kibosh on Cancer Vaccine, Focuses on Infectious Diseases

Vials_iStock, NikiLitov

Pictured: Syringe drawing from a series of vials/iStock, NikiLitov

Danish biotech Bavarian Nordic announced on Wednesday, as part of its preliminary 2023 financial results, that it would halt any future work on its cancer vaccine program.

According to Bavarian Nordic, its cancer vaccine TAEK-VAC has reached a stage where more investments are required. The company would also have faced stiff competition in the cancer vaccine space as big names such as BioNTech, Merck and Moderna are making progress on their respective cancer vaccines.

The TAEK-VAC program will stop with no plans to invest in an immune-oncology vaccine. The company’s website details the TAEK-VAC vaccine, which sought to use the body’s immune system to find and eliminate cancer cells. A Phase I trial of the vaccine was ongoing with the first stage of the study completed while stage two was open for enrollment.

Bavarian Nordic said it will instead focus on infectious diseases through “product improvements” and new vaccine development to stay competitive. The company is working on a vaccine for the chikungunya virus and equine encephalitis, a rare mosquito-borne disease.

For its chikungunya vaccine, Bavarian Nordic is currently conducting a Phase III trial. The results, which were posted in August 2023, showed that 98% of patients who took the vaccine had a strong induction of chikungunya-inducing antibodies. In addition, 97% of patients in the study had antibodies induced within two weeks of vaccination.

Separately, an equine encephalitis vaccine has finished a Phase I trial and is being developed via a contract with the U.S. government.

Bavarian Nordic disclosed that the development costs were DKK 850 million ($149 million) in 2023, with nearly half of those costs related to its chickungunya program.

Bavarian Nordic’s preliminary 2023 results show the company secured revenue of over DKK 7 billion ($1 billion) compared to 3.1 billion ($449 million) in 2022. The biotech said that the spike in revenue was caused by a rise in sales of smallpox/mpox vaccines following an outbreak in 2022 and growth in the travel health business after an acquisition last year.

Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at Follow him on LinkedIn.

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