GSK on Wednesday announced it is restructuring an existing collaboration agreement with German biotech CureVac, focusing on their investigational mRNA vaccines for influenza and COVID-19 while withdrawing from other infectious disease projects.

Under the amended contract, GSK will pay CureVac €400 million—or approximately $430 million upfront—and has pledged up to $1.13 billion in development, regulatory and sales milestones, as well as tiered royalties in the high-single to low-teens range. The new deal will supersede all previous financial considerations from the prior agreement.

GSK will gain full global rights to develop and commercialize CureVac’s investigational mRNA vaccines for influenza and COVID-19, including combination formulations. The partners currently have seasonal flu and COVID-19 shots in Phase II development, and an avian flu candidate in Phase I. All three of these candidates have best-in-class potential, according to the companies.

GSK CSO Tony Wood in a statement said that the pharma is “excited” for its flu and COVID-19 programs, as well for the opportunity to advance these “best-in-class mRNA vaccines to change the standard of care.” The amended agreement will combine CureVac’s technology with GSK’s intellectual property, machinery and capabilities “to deliver these promising vaccines at pace,” Wood said.

CureVac and GSK inked their original collaboration in July 2020, with the pharma putting down almost $130 million upfront and a making a nearly 10% equity stake in the biotech. At the time, the companies announced that they would “combined their mRNA expertise” to develop up to five vaccine candidates and monoclonal antibodies for “a range of infectious disease pathogens,” though they didn’t disclose specific target programs.

With the new contract, CureVac will retain the exclusive rights to the other undisclosed and preclinical-validated targets from the previous agreement. The German company will also have the freedom to advance or partner these mRNA vaccine candidates, as it sees fit, in other infectious disease indications.

The restructured deal comes as CureVac undergoes a sweeping strategic restructuring initiative, also announced on Wednesday.

Aiming to “focus its resources on high-value mRNA projects” in cancer and other therapeutic areas, CureVac is laying off around 30% of its staff to “create a leaner, more agile organization,” according to the company. By refocusing its resources and R&D efforts, CureVac now anticipates delivering at least two clinical candidates by the end of 2025, along with at least two new Phase I studies by the end of 2026.

Wednesday’s reorganization—combined with the maximum value it can receive under the amended GSK deal—should extend CureVac’s runway into 2028.

Source: https://www.biospace.com/article/gsk-pays-430m-upfront-for-curevac-s-covid-19-flu-mrna-vaccines/
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