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Lilly expands its immuno-oncology work with $1.8bn CureVac deal

Will work with the German firm to develop ‘next generation’ cancer vaccines

Lilly

Lilly has significantly ramped up its focus on immuno-oncology, signing a deal with CureVac that could be worth more than $1.8bn to the German biopharmaceutical group.

The partners are set to develop up to five cancer vaccine products, and could potentially create a new class of drugs in the process.

At the heart of the agreement is messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, marking the first time it has been broadly explored in the immuno-oncology capacity.

More specifically, Tubingen-based CureVac’s RNActive technology will deliver mRNA that directs the human immune system to target neoantigens, which will instruct the patient’s immune system to eradicate the cancer.

Greg Plowman, vice president of oncology and research at Lilly, said: “We are excited to be collaborating with CureVac to discover what could potentially be the next frontier of cancer medicines.

“This collaboration reinforces Lilly’s commitment to delivering life-changing medicines to treat and cure people living with cancer around the world.”

Under the terms of the agreement, CureVac is set to receive an upfront payment of $50m and an equity investment of €45m.

Additionally, the biopharma is also eligible to receive more than $1.7bn in development and commercialisation milestones if all five vaccines are successfully developed, and royalty payment on product sales.

Ingmar Hoerr, CureVac’s co-founder and chief executive officer, said: “This new collaboration with Lilly is a testimony to the progress and sophistication of CureVac’s RNActive technology and the potential mRNA-based therapeutics.

“We now have the opportunity to combine forces to further expand this exciting space of immuno-oncology with the next generation of cancer therapies.”

With the aim to drive the potential future vaccines to market, CureVac will take responsibility for mRNA design, formulation and manufacturing of clinical supply.

The deal builds upon the biopharma’s existing investments - including $52m from the Bill & Melina Gates Foundation - and previous collaborations with Sanofi Pasteur, Boehringer Ingelheim and IAVI.

Article by
Gemma Jones

19th October 2017

From: Sales

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