CureVac signs agreement with GSK for mRNA vaccines amid layoffs in €1.45B restructuring deal

By Clara Rodriguez Fernandez

- Last updated on GMT

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© Getty Images

Related tags Gsk Vaccine CureVac Immune system Glaxosmithkline

CureVac has signed a new licensing agreement with GSK shortly after announcing the decision to reduce its workforce by 30% and refocus its research and development priorities.

GSK and CureVac have restructured their existing collaboration into a new licensing agreement potentially worth €1.45 billion plus royalties. As part of the deal, GSK will acquire the full rights to develop, manufacture, and commercialize mRNA vaccine candidates for influenza and Covid-19. 

From now on, GSK will assume full control and worldwide commercial rights for these R&D programs, which include vaccine candidates for seasonal influenza and Covid-19 currently in phase 2 trials, as well as a vaccine candidate for avian influenza in phase 1 trials. All are based on CureVac’s mRNA technology and have potential to be best-in-class new vaccines.

“We are excited about our flu/COVID-19 programs and the opportunity to develop best-in-class mRNA vaccines to change the standard of care,” said Tony Wood, Chief Scientific Officer at GSK. “With this new agreement, we will apply GSK’s capabilities and intellectual property to CureVac’s technology, to deliver these promising vaccines at pace.”

In exchange, CureVac will receive €400 million upfront and up to €1.05 billion in additional development, regulatory, and sales milestone payments, plus tiered royalties.

The deal replaces all terms from the existing collaboration agreement between GSK and CureVac, which had entered a partnership in 2020 to develop mRNA vaccines for infectious diseases.

CureVac will retain exclusive rights to all other undisclosed and preclinically validated infection disease targets from their prior collaboration, allowing the company to independently develop and partner mRNA vaccines in any other indications. 

“The collaboration with GSK has been instrumental in developing promising, late clinical-stage vaccine candidates, leveraging our proprietary mRNA platform,” said Alexander Zehnder, Chief Executive Officer at CureVac. “This new licensing agreement puts us in a strong financial position and enables us to focus on efforts in building a strong R&D pipeline.”

The news of the restructured agreement with GSK comes soon after CureVac’s announcement last week of plans to downsize its workforce by 30%, with the goal of extending the company’s cash runway.

From 2025, CureVac expects to save €25 million annually in personnel costs and reduce the overall operational expenses by over 30%. Together, the lower operational costs and the cash injection from the new licensing deal with GSK will extend the company’s runway into 2028.

Following the layoffs, CureVac will be refocusing its R&D activities to prioritize high-value opportunities in oncology and other selected diseases. The company expects to have results from a phase 1 clinical trial in glioblastoma in the second half of 2024, to deliver two candidates for cancer vaccines by the end of 2025, and to initiate at least two phase 1 studies by the end of 2026.

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