MVA-BN Brachyury is a new cancer immunotherapy candidate being developed by Denmark’s Bavarian Nordic to help teach the body’s immune system to attack and destroy cancer cells.

It is designed to induce a strong T-cell immune response against cells that produce a protein called brachyury. Most solid tumors produce too much Brachyury, which is known to help spread and worsen resistance to cancer therapies.

Cancers that overproduce brachyury include chordoma, which occurs in the bones of the skull base and spine. It is among several malignant bone and soft tissue tumors called sarcomas that are highly resistant to current therapies and that have low survival rates.

How MVA-BN Brachyury works

MVA-BN (modified vaccine Ankara–Bavarian Nordic) is a patented vaccine platform technology that can be adapted to treat a variety of infectious diseases and cancers. It is an attenuated version of MVA that maintains the ability to infect human cells.

When given, MVA-BN Brachyury expresses the transgenes for brachyury and activates a T-cell response specifically against brachyury. Because cancer cells such as chordoma highly express brachyury, the activated T-cells can also recognize and attack these cells.

MVA-BN Brachyury in clinical trials

A dose escalation Phase 1 clinical trial (NCT02179515) that included 38 participants with advanced chordoma aimed assess the drug’s safety and identify brachyury-specific T-cell responses. Three under-the-skin vaccine dose levels were evaluated.

MVA-BN Brachyury was well tolerated with no dose-limiting toxicities observed. Researchers saw T-cell responses at all dose levels in most participants, and recorded no serious side effects related to the treatment.

Another Phase 1 trial (NCT03349983) is evaluating the safety and tolerability of MVA-BN-Brachyury and FPV-Brachyury (another recombinant virus carrying the brachyury gene) in patients with metastatic or unresectable locally advanced malignant solid tumors. Patients will receive two prime doses of MVA-BN-Brachyury and monthly boost doses of FPV-Brachyury for six months injected under the skin. The trial is currently recruiting participants in Maryland.


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