GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will buy a 10% stake in Germany’s CureVac as part of a strategic collaboration to develop and commercialize up to five messenger RNA-based (mRNA) vaccines and monoclonal antibodies targeting infectious disease pathogens.
Under the terms of the deal, GSK will make a £130 million ($163 million) equity investment to buy a 10% stake in CureVac and an upfront payment of £104 million. The British drugmaker will fund R&D activities covered by the collaboration, while CureVac will be in charge of the preclinical- and clinical-development through Phase 1 trials. After that GSK will be responsible for further development and commercialisation.
In addition, CureVac will be eligible to receive development and regulatory milestone payments of up to £277 million, commercial milestone payments of up to £329 million and tiered royalties on product sales.
“GSK’s self-amplifying mRNA (SAM) vaccine technology has shown us the potential of mRNA technology to advance the science of vaccine development, and CureVac’s experience complements our own expertise,” said Roger Connor, President of GSK Vaccines. “Through the application of mRNA technology, including SAM, we hope to be able to develop and scale up advanced vaccines and therapies to treat and prevent infectious diseases quicker than ever before.”
GSK said that advancing mRNA-based vaccine and treatment technologies is also expected to play a role in further improving response against future pandemics. By using mRNA technology in vaccines and medicines, specific proteins, or antigens, can be produced by the body’s own cells, enabling the human immune system to prevent or fight disease.
CureVac’s existing COVID-19 mRNA and rabies vaccines research programmes are not included in the collaboration.
Earlier this year, GSK entered into a collaboration with French drugmaker Sanofi (SNY) to jointly develop an adjuvanted vaccine for COVID-19. The two companies said they expected a candidate vaccine to enter Phase 1 clinical trials in the second half of 2020 and, if successful, plan to make it available in the second half of 2021.
Shares in GSK closed little changed on Friday at $41.81 in U.S. trading. The stock is down 11% so far this year with Kepler Capital assigning a Hold rating on the company. (See GSK stock analysis on TipRanks)
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