GSK acquires 10% stake in CureVac, partner on mRNA vaccines
The work will see the two companies partner to discover, develop, manufacture and commercialize up to five mRNA-based vaccines and monoclonal antibodies.
Alongside the deal to collaborate on developing infectious disease targets, GSK will also make an equity investment of £130m (€150m), which sees the company take an approximate 10% stake in CureVac.
In addition, GSK will provide CureVac an upfront payment of £104m, and reserve manufacturing capacity with a payment of £26m.
CureVac is also in line to receive development and regulatory milestones worth up to £277m and commercial milestones of up to £329m.
The deal expressly does not contain any of CureVac’s existing COVID-19 mRNA or rabies vaccines research programs. However, the companies stated that the target would be to develop vaccines and treatment ‘expected to play a role’ against future pandemics.
Prior to this agreement, GSK had already begun exploring the potential of mRNA vaccines, with its self-amplifying mRNA technology, which the company stated it would use in conjunction with CureVac’s expertise.
With the arrival of COVID-19, GSK has provided greater investment into its vaccine division, after previously pivoting to reduce headcount in the area.
This has seen it increase vaccine adjuvant production, to aid in the process of developing an adjuvanted vaccine against the pandemic, and to form a partnership with Sanofi, to create a vaccine against the virus.
Looking to long-term
The company is also looking to the short- and long-term implications of the current pandemic, through a deal with Medicago earlier this month.
This partnership is exploring combing Medicago’s coronavirus virus-like particles with GSK’s adjuvant system. Phase I testing for Medicago’s vaccine candidate were set to begin around mid-July.
Further than this immediate candidate, the two companies announce that they would also collaborate to develop a ‘post-pandemic’ vaccine COVID-19 candidate.
A spokesperson for Medicago explained why this could be necessary: “In the situation where the COVID-19 would become endemic, as for seasonal influenza, for example, a seasonal COVID vaccine might be different than a pandemic one. It might also require additional clinical trials.
“Therefore, if COVID becomes an endemic threat, Medicago and GSK would collaborate to develop a solution.”
Together, the companies expect to be able to manufacture 100 million doses of Medicago’s vaccine candidate by the end of 2021, using the latter’s plant-based production system.