GlaxoSmithKline PLC (LON:GSK) has announced a new €150mln collaboration with CureVac (NASDAQ:CVAC) to jointly develop next-generation mRNA vaccines for the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The pair are building on their existing relationship to address multiple emerging variants in one vaccine.

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GSK will also support the manufacture of up to 100mln doses of CureVac’s first-generation COVID-19 vaccine candidate CVnCoV in 2021 and will dish out €75mln upfront then will make a further milestone payment of €75mln.

Through this new agreement, GSK and CureVac will contribute resources and expertise to research, develop, and manufacture a number of novel mRNA vaccine candidates, including multi-valent and monovalent approaches.

GSK will be the marketing authorisation holder, except in Switzerland, and will have exclusive rights to develop, manufacture, and commercialise it in all countries with the exception of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The aim of this work is to offer broader protection against a variety of different SARS-CoV2 variants, and to enable a quick response to new variants potentially emerging in the future.

The development programme will begin immediately, with the target of introducing the vaccine in 2022, subject to regulatory approval, the FTSE 100 firm said.

These new jabs may either be used to protect people who have not been vaccinated before or as boosters when immunisation wanes, the pharma giant added.

In addition, the collaboration will assess the development of novel mRNA vaccines to protect against multiple respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.

This collaboration will build on CureVac’s first-generation COVID-19 vaccine candidate CVnCoV, which is currently in Phase 2b/3 clinical trial and on CureVac’s ability to optimise mRNA for stability at standard 2-8°C cold chain conditions for vaccines, unlike other mRNA formulation that requires deep freezing.

GSK is also working on another candidate with French partner Sanofi, although in December they announced it would not be market-ready until the fourth quarter of 2021 after some disappointing test results, so researchers had to go back to the lab to make some changes.

Shares rose 1% to 1,377p on Wednesday morning.

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