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GSK and CureVac look to develop next-generation mRNA COVID-19 vaccines

Novel mRNA vaccines will seek to combat newly emerging variants

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), having recently suffered a setback with its Sanofi-partnered vaccine candidate, has announced a new €150m collaboration seeking to develop ‘next-generation’ mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines with CureVac.

mRNA technology has been in the spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech’s mRNA-based vaccines that use this approach having already been authorisation in the US, UK and EU.

GSK is now looking to enter the mRNA research space, after its Sanofi-partnered vaccine candidate induced a low immune response in older participants, leading to a delayed timeline for the programme.

CureVac is already testing a first-generation mRNA COVID-19 vaccine – CVnCoV – currently in late-stage clinical development. This includes a recently launched global phase 2b/3 study which is aiming to enrol over 35,000 participants across Europe and Latin America.

German pharma company Bayer is CureVac’s main partner for CVnCoV, having partnered on the development of the vaccine in early January.

As part of that deal, Bayer is supporting the late-stage development, supply and key territory operations of CVnCoV.

In February, Bayer signed a new agreement with CureVac to bolster production of the mRNA vaccine.

Stefan Oelrich, head of Bayer’s pharmaceutical division, said that the company expects to produce 161 million doses of CureVac’s vaccine in 2022.

The GSK/CureVac deal will focus on developing a novel mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, by using multivalent and monovalent approaches.

The next generation vaccine will aim to offer broader protection against newly emerging variants, which have been reported to have the potential to reduce the efficacy of first-gen mRNA jabs.

GSK said the next generation COVID-19 vaccines could be used to protect those who have not been vaccinated or used as boosters in the event that COVID-19 immunity from an initial vaccination reduces over time.

As part of the deal, GSK will be the marketing authorisation holder for the next generation vaccine – excluding Switzerland – and will have exclusive rights to develop, manufacture and commercialise the jab in all countries except Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

“We believe that next generation vaccines will be crucial in the continued fight against COVID-19,”  said Emma Walmsley, chief executive officer of GSK.

“This new collaboration builds on our existing relationship with CureVac and means that together we will combine our scientific expertise in mRNA and vaccine development to advance and accelerate the development of new COVID-19 vaccine candidates,” she added.

GSK is also assisting in the manufacturing of CureVac’s CVnCoV vaccine, with the aim of supporting the production of up to 100 million doses in 2021.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

4th February 2021

From: Research

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