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NEC Acquires Bioinformatics Firm OncoImmunity

NEW YORK — NEC said today that it has acquired Norwegian bioinformatics firm OncoImmunity. 

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

OncoImmunity has developed a personalized cancer medicine platform called ImmuneProfiler, which applies machine learning to next-generation sequencing data to predict the immunogenic neoantigens in individual cancer patients that can serve as therapeutic targets and immunotherapy biomarkers. In late 2018, the company received a €2.2 million ($2.5 million) European Innovation Council grant to refine the platform.

Tokyo-based NEC said the acquisition will bolster its cancer immunotherapy development programs, which the company formally unveiled in May. NEC is initially focusing on neoantigen vaccines for ovarian cancer and head and neck cancer in collaboration with France's Transgene. 

"OncoImmunity ... is a recognized player in the neoantigen prediction field, and their compelling systems are expected to form valuable synergies with NEC," NEC Senior Vice President Osamu Fujikawa said in a statement. "We are confident that this acceleration of development will provide promising new avenues that lead to better cancer treatments."

In late 2018, NEC began working with Germany's National Center for Tumor Diseases and Protagen to improve methods for in silico prediction of immunotherapy response in patients with malignant melanoma. Earlier this year, the firm invested $50 million into cancer immunotherapy software startup BostonGene.