Despite an industry-shift towards working on a vaccine for COVID-19, among which Pfizer is a prominent player, the company has used its considerable resources to buy into a vaccine program by Valneva for Lyme disease.
Pfizer will pay an upfront fee of $130m (€118m) to partner with Valneva on the potential vaccine, VLA15, which is currently going through two Phase II studies. In addition, Pfizer will pay a further $35m in development milestones and $143m dependent on ‘early’ commercialization milestones.
Pfizer will take over the late-stage development of the vaccine and will have sole control over commercialization, paying Valneva tiered royalties starting at 19%.
According to Valneva, it expects the first of the two Phase II studies’ results in mid-2020.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted the vaccine program fast track designation in 2017, with VLA15 being the only Lyme disease vaccine program currently in clinical development.
The vaccine targets the outer surface protein A of Borrelia, which is one of the most dominant surface proteins in the bacteria causing the disease.
For Valneva, Pfizer’s interest in the program represents a show in faith of the company’s capabilities, which Thomas Lingelbach, CEO of the company, noted in the announcement: “This collaboration is extremely exciting as it provides the opportunity for the rapid development and launch of a vaccine that has the potential to address a major unmet medical need. It validates Valneva’s strong vaccine R&D capabilities.”
This will provide a boost, after GSK cancelled its partnership with the company, which included work on the vaccine at the heart of this deal.
This decision allowed Valneva to take full control of its R&D assets, though it was required to pay GSK $10m, as a result of the structure of the original deal.