Bavarian Nordic sees 'huge potential' in cancer vaccine combos, CEO says

CEO Paul Chaplin told FiercePharma that Bavarian Nordic would be open to future partnerships under the right circumstances.

As interest in cancer vaccine combos surges, Bavarian Nordic is inclined to remain an independent vaccine company, according to CEO Paul Chaplin. That's because, he says, it's the “best and most fruitful way” to get the most out of the company's platform in a variety of disease targets.

Despite industrywide struggles in 2016, BN itself had a “great year” by raising capital and moving along its pipeline assets, Chaplin told FiercePharma.

Bavarian Nordic sees “huge potential” in cancer vaccine combos, Chaplin said, with Chief Medical Officer Chris Heery, M.D., adding that there’s an increased willingness around the industry to partner checkpoint inhibitors with vaccines. Bavarian Nordic is currently testing multiple combos with Bristol-Myers Squibb and plans to start new studies in “additional indications,” the helmsman said.

Immuno-oncology is “hot today, but we have been here for a long time and we have a large amount of experience in the field,” Chaplin said. Heery, who joined Bavarian Nordic as Chief Medical Officer in September from the National Cancer Institute, said it’s an “extremely exciting time” to be in I/O. He joined the company to work at an “inflection point at which we can actually see the effect of therapeutic cancer vaccines in patients.”

Elsewhere in its pipeline, the Danish biotech has made its way to the forefront in RSV, Chaplin said, after reporting positive phase 1 data for its own candidate and with the late-stage failure of a rival from Novavax. Bavarian Nordic has a “differentiated approach and one that I think will be successful in long run” in RSV, Chaplin said.

The company’s phase 2 RSV trial, which completed enrollment last month, should read out in the middle of this year.

Bavarian Nordic raised $100 million privately in 2016 after canceling its IPO due to market conditions, a fundraising effort Chaplin said demonstrates a “loyalty and belief” in the company’s pipeline and platform.

Aside from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Bavarian Nordic has partnered with Janssen to develop a therapeutic HPV vaccine, with the option for Janssen to license Bavarian Nordic's vaccine tech for two additional undisclosed infectious disease targets. The biotech could be open to future buys or partnerships if the situation were right, Chaplin said.