They would be pitting that against GlaxoSmithKline’s shingles vaccine, Shingrix, a non-live, recombinant sub-unit adjuvanted jab, approved in 2017 by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in adults, aged 50 and over. That age group as well as vulnerable populations like cancer patients are at an increased risk of shingles.
The partners reckon there is an opportunity, through leveraging mRNA technology, to develop an improved vaccine for shingles that potentially shows high efficacy and better tolerability and is more efficient to produce globally.
Mikael Dolsten, CSO, worldwide research, development and medical at Pfizer, said, with this initiative, the partners are continuing on their “journey of discovery together, by advancing mRNA technology to tackle another health challenge ripe for scientific innovation, supported by our world-class manufacturing network.”
Product candidates will be based on BioNTech’s proprietary mRNA technology, which was used in their jointly developed COVID-19 vaccine, and on Pfizer’s antigen technology.
Clinical trials are expected to start in the second half of 2022.
BioNTech will receive $225m upfront, including an upfront cash payment of $75m and an equity investment of $150m; it will also be eligible to receive future approval and sales milestone payments totaling up to $200m as well as a share of gross profits arising from future product sales
Pfizer will receive an upfront payment of $25m from BioNTech for its proprietary antigen sequences.
The parties will share development costs.
BioNTech and Pfizer Inc are making headway in terms of the development of an mRNA-based influenza vaccine as well, with its investigational candidate entering the clinical trial phase in autumn last year. The race is on, in that respect, as rivals, Moderna and Sanofi, are also focused on that space.