CSL taps into Arcturus Therapeutics' self-amplifying mRNA tech to develop future vaccines

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags mRNA Vaccines COVID-19 Influenza Influenza vaccine

CSL Limited has entered into a collaboration and license agreement with Arcturus Therapeutics Holdings to access its late stage, next-generation self-amplifying mRNA (sa-mRNA) vaccine tech: prepared to spend more than $4bn on the deal to accelerate its mRNA journey.

Via its vaccine subsidiary CSL Seqirus, CSL will use Arcturus’ tech to support the research, development, manufacture and commercialization of vaccines for COVID-19, influenza, pandemic preparedness and three other global respiratory infectious diseases yet to be announced.

San Diego-headquartered Arcturus will receive $200m upfront and is eligible to receive over $1.3bn in development milestones and over $3bn in commercial milestones. It will also be eligible for a 40% net profit share for COVID-19 vaccine products and ‘up to double-digit’ royalties for the other vaccines.

Arcturus’ STARR self-amplifying mRNA technology is already being used in a COVID-19 vaccine candidate: which recently met primary and secondary endpoints in a Phase 3 trial.

Long-term, high opportunity development

CSL Seqirus’ work spans the research, development, manufacture, and global commercialization of vaccines. It says it is eying up the opportunities to make ‘strategic investments in both the development of the company’s existing platforms and in longer-term, high opportunity development activities’. 

In particular, CSL Seqirus prides itself on its stronghold in influenza vaccines, with a portfolio including world’s second largest influenza vaccine franchise. It says the deal will Arcturus will allow it to “shape the future therapeutic landscape of influenza vaccines”.

Arcturus' Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine data

The study reported 95% efficacy overall for the prevention of severe COVID-19 (including deaths) and 55% efficacy overall for preventing symptomatic COVID-19 disease. In August, data from a booster study for the vaccine demonstrated ‘broad neutralizing antibody response against Omicron variants of concern, including BA.5’ following a primary series of Comirnaty.

The new deal will see the company combine its established global vaccine commercial and manufacturing infrastructure with Arcturus’ manufacturing skills and STARR self-amplifying mRNA vaccine and LUNAR delivery platform technologies, alongside its mRNA design and modification expertise. 

“This collaboration is an exciting opportunity to complement CSL’s own next generation mRNA program with a partner who developed a platform to deliver late stage clinical supplies at scale.  These combined capabilities will accelerate our journey in mRNA,”​ said CSL Chief Operating Officer Paul McKenzie.

Steve Marlow, CSL Seqirus General Manager, added: “Importantly, it is another step towards our long-term aim to advance public health by developing and commercializing enhanced vaccines for influenza and multi-pathogen pandemic preparedness. The collaboration also provides a pathway to offer a COVID-19 booster, providing another differentiated option to healthcare providers and governments around the world.”

CSL Seqirus produces influenza vaccines across its global manufacturing network, which includes facilities in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. CSL also continues to grow its R&D footprint and is investing in a new facility located in Waltham, Mass. that will support the company’s R&D portfolio, with a focus on the sa-mRNA technology platform. This facility will serve as an R&D center for current and future vaccine design, and collaborations with stakeholders from across industry and academia. 

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