GlaxoSmithKline inks deal with CureVac to develop mRNA-based vaccines

GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay £130 million ($164 million) for a stake of nearly 10% in CureVac as part of an agreement to develop up to five mRNA-based vaccines and monoclonal antibodies targeting infectious disease pathogens, the companies reported Monday. Roger Connor, president of vaccines at GlaxoSmithKline, said "CureVac's experience complements our own expertise," adding that "through the application of mRNA technology, including [self-amplifying mRNA], we hope to be able to develop and scale up advanced vaccines and therapies to treat and prevent infectious diseases quicker than ever before."

Along with the equity stake, GlaxoSmithKline will make an upfront cash payment of £104 million ($131 million) to CureVac, as well as a one-time reimbursable payment of £26 million ($33 million) for manufacturing capacity reservation once the latter's commercial-scale production facility, currently under construction in Germany, is certified. In addition, CureVac is eligible to receive development and regulatory milestone payments of up to £277 million ($349 million), commercial milestone payments of as much as £329 million ($414 million) and tiered royalties on product sales. 

COVID-19, rabies vaccines not included

The deal comes after the German government last month invested €300 million ($343 million) to take an approximately 23% stake in CureVac, which is developing an mRNA-based vaccine against COVID-19, after having earlier accused the US administration of trying to lure away the Tübingen-based biopharmaceutical firm as the pandemic was starting to spread in Europe and the US. The first clinical results for CureVac's COVID-19 vaccine could read out in September or October.

The arrangement with GlaxoSmithKline will focus on "a range of infectious disease pathogens, selected with the potential to best leverage the advantages of this platform technology," the companies said, but CureVac's existing COVID-19 mRNA and rabies vaccines research programmes are not included.

With help from R&D funding from GlaxoSmithKline, CureVac will be responsible for preclinical and clinical development of these projects through Phase I trials, after which the UK drugmaker will handle further development and commercialisation activities. Meanwhile, CureVac will look after manufacturing of the product candidates, including for commercialisation, and retain marketing rights in selected countries for all product candidates.  

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