Workshop Day

Monday 29 April 2024

Check-In Opens & Light Breakfast - 8.00

Workshop A – 9am

Unearthing the Dark Antigenome & Leveraging Machine Learning to Accurately Prioritize Neoantigens


High throughput sequencing technologies are allowing for an ever-increasing resolution of tumour genome characterization, offering exciting windows of opportunity for (personalized) cancer vaccines. How should we identify the most promising targets, with the highest probability of (T cell) immunogenicity? Are there new targets in the genome that were previously left not considered? What roles can machine learning and AI play in prioritizing candidates among the plethora of choices that are available for most patients with cancer? What are key considerations in applying these technologies correctly?

In this workshop we will discuss our efforts in both antigen discovery and computational validation of immunogenicity at CureVac. During presentations, we’ll identify controversial topics and call for audience input.

Discovery of Unannotated Small Open Reading Frame Tumour Associated Antigens

  • smORF TAA antigen discovery
  • Decreasing search spaces, assessing translational potential
  • Experimental validation

Machine learning for Neoantigen Identification

  • Predictive features to consider in immunogenicity prediction
  • Robust machine learning to learn the characteristics of immunogenic neo-epitopes
  • Limitations to the currently available training data and how to address them

11:00 am Morning Break & Networking

Workshop B – 12pm

Delving into the Tumour Microenvironment to Improve Understanding of the Immunosuppressive Environment to Increase Effectivity of Neoantigen Therapies

  • Alfred Slanetz President & Chief Executive Officer, Geneius Biotechnology, Inc.


Due to the great heterogeneity of tumours, they can evolve capabilities to allow them to escape and evade the immune system. Moreover, the tumour microenvironment may have compounds or signals which block interactions between therapies and the tumour. Therefore, in order to create the most effective and immunogenic therapies, these mechanisms need to be understood further to enable adaptation to the tumour and its microenvironment.

  • Navigating the compounds in the tumour microenvironment which help it overcome the immune system.
  • Analyzing the presence of microbial species which can impact the efficacy of the therapies.
  • Improving awareness of tumour microenvironment to reduce failures.
  • How to overcome the challenge of tumour immune escape by targeting multiple neoantigens?
  • How to design vaccines and therapeutics to face challenges of tumour immune escape?
  • Are there additional signals to identify to ensure success of the therapies?

2:00 pm Lunch & Networking

Workshop C – 3pm

Discovering the Optimal Clinical Setting for Achieving Positive & Accurate Clinical Results to Streamline Candidate Approval


To successfully carry out trials for neoantigen therapies, the field needs to understand what the best clinical setting is and what conditions should be used to get the most accurate and reliable results. This enables neoantigen therapies to be fast-tracked through the clinic in order to get to the patients in need faster.

  • What learnings can be taken from the current clinical trials which have occurred with neoantigen therapies?
  • How to design the optimal clinical conditions – low tumour burden vs high tumour burden, hot tumours vs cold tumours?
  • What to do to maximize the chance of getting a signal?
  • Analysing optimum clinical trial conditions for personalized vaccines and combination therapies.
  • What is the process for registration in different regions?
  • What learnings can be taken from the current clinical trials which have occurred with vaccine and neoantigen therapies?
  • How to design the optimal clinical conditions – untreated vs pretreated, metastases stage/location/size, immune cell infiltration, ECOG status? What to do to maximize the chance of getting a signal? 

5:00 pm End of Pre-Conference Workshop Day