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GSK agrees on 10% equity stake in mRNA specialist CureVac

Equity investment totals £130m with an upfront payment of £104m

GSK

GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to pay £130m to German biotech company CureVac, which is close to a 10% stake, for a strategic collaboration focused on the development of mRNA-based vaccines and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs).

The agreement will include the research, development, manufacturing and commercialisation of up to five mRNA vaccines and mAbs targeting infectious disease pathogens. CureVac is already working on a vaccine for COVID-19 based on its mRNA platform, although the company's existing COVID-19 mRNA and rabies vaccine research programmes are not included in the GSK collaboration.

Under the terms of the deal, GSK will make an upfront cash payment of £104m and a one-time reimbursable payment of £26m for manufacturing capacity reservation, which will be paid once CureVac’s commercial scale manufacturing facility, currently under construction in Germany, is functioning.

mRNA technology has been in the spotlight over the last few months, thanks to the host of companies utilising this research area to develop innovative vaccines for the novel coronavirus. That includes, among others, Pfizer and BioNTech, as well as COVID-19 vaccine frontrunner Moderna.

Although mRNA research is relatively new, and an mRNA-based vaccine is yet to be approved for any disease, scientists have identified the potential of this technology to prevent a range of infectious diseases. mRNA molecules enable protein synthesis by carrying the genetic code required for cells to manufacture and express proteins.

The hope is that by using mRNA technology to develop vaccines and therapeutic treatments, specific proteins and antigens can be produced by the body’s own cells, which would help the immune system to prevent or fight certain diseases, including COVID-19.

“We are delighted to partner with GSK. With this collaboration, we are gaining a world-class partner whose expertise and global footprint will allow us to further develop and translate the value of our platform into potential products for the world,” said Franz-Werner Haas, acting chief executive officer of CureVac.

As part of the deal, CureVac will be eligible to receive development and regulatory milestone payments of up to £277m, as well as commercial milestone payments of up to £328m, with tiered royalties on top of that.

GSK is also set to fund all research and development at CureVac related to the projects included in the agreement. Although CureVac will hold responsibility for the preclinical and clinical development until phase 1 trials, GSK will take responsibility for the later-stage trials and commercialisation of the programmes.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

20th July 2020

From: Research

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