Oncologist Discussing Medications with a Senior Patient
A male Oncologist of Middle Eastern decent sits with a senior patient as they discuss her medications. The patient is dressed casually and wearing a head scarf to keep her warm as she looks at the tablet in the doctors hands, and her prescriptions can be seen sitting out on the exam table beside her.

Moderna will partner with Chinese biotech CARsgen to co-develop a combined CAR T-cell and mRNA cancer vaccine therapy.

The collaboration aims to combine Moderna’s Claudin18.2 mRNA cancer vaccine with CARsgen’s investigational Claudin18.2 autologous CAR T-cell product candidate (CT041) to test efficacy for targeting hard to treat cancers.

Claudin 18.2 is a cell surface protein expressed by multiple cancer cells, including gastric and pancreatic cancer cells, and is being investigated as a potential therapy target by a number of different companies including Moderna and CARsgen. Notably, BioNTech, a key competitor of Moderna, has a claudin 18.2 cancer vaccine in early clinical trials.

CT041 (satricabtagene autoleucel) is an autologous CAR T-cell candidate therapy being developed by CARsgen to treat solid gastric and pancreatic tumors. It has Orphan Drug designation from the FDA, granted in 2020, and was also given Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapy designation last year.

“CT041 is the most advanced solid tumor CAR-T in development (pivotal phase II) and continues to show promise in treating gastric and pancreatic cancers. In our quest to make cancer curable, we are continuously exploring multiple modalities to eradicate tumors. Attacking tumors with CAR T-cell therapy in combination with a cancer vaccine could potentially provide greater clinical benefit to patients,” said Zonghai Li, founder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and chief scientific officer of CARsgen Therapeutics Holdings Limited, in a press statement.

“Moderna has clearly established themselves as a scientific and commercial leader in the field of mRNA-based vaccines and therapeutics, and we are pleased to partner with Moderna to explore a potential synergism between our innovative therapies.”

Moderna is expanding its cancer portfolio and has several cancer vaccines in development, the most advanced of which is its individualized neoantigen therapy, mRNA-4157, which is being co-developed with Merck.

This particular collaboration will assess the potential of combining its Claudin18.2 mRNA cancer vaccine with CT041 to see if this can provide additional benefits to patients in a Phase I trial. “Claudin18.2 is a promising therapeutic target to potentially treat multiple cancer types with high unmet medical need,” said Lin Guey, chief scientific officer of External Research Ventures, at Moderna.

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