GSK and CureVac to develop next-gen mRNA COVID-19 vaccines

GlaxoSmithKline and CureVac have forged a new €150 million collaboration to jointly develop next-gen mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 with the potential for a multi-valent approach to address multiple emerging variants in one vaccine.

GSK will also support the manufacture of up to 100 million doses of CureVac’s first generation COVID-19 vaccine candidate CVnCoV in 2021.

Through this new exclusive co-development agreement, which builds on an existing partnership, 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.

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 increase in emerging variants with the potential to reduce the efficacy of first generation COVID-19 vaccines requires acceleration of efforts to develop vaccines against new variants to keep one step ahead of the pandemic.

These next generation COVID-19 vaccines may either be used to protect people who have not been vaccinated before, or to serve as boosters in the event that COVID-19 immunity gained from an initial vaccination reduces over time. 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 a strong immune response, manufacturability, and stability at standard 2-8°C cold chain conditions for vaccines.

CureVac’s platform is uniquely adapted to designing multi-valent vaccines with a balanced immune response and a low dose of mRNA.

“This new collaboration builds on our existing relationship with CureVac and means that together, we will combine our scientific expertise in mRNA and vaccine development to advance and accelerate the development of new COVID-19 vaccine candidates,” said GSK CEO Emma Walmsley.

“At the same time, we will also support the production of CureVac’s first generation vaccines with the manufacture of 100 million doses in 2021.”

Franz-Werner Haas, CEO of CureVac, added: “We are very pleased to build on our existing relationship with GSK with a new agreement to jointly develop next generation mRNA-based vaccines, in addition to our current candidate CVnCoV.

“With the help of GSK’s proven vaccine expertise, we are equipping ourselves to tackle future health challenges with novel vaccines.”

As part of the new collaboration, GSK will also support manufacture of CureVac’s first-generation COVID-19 vaccine candidate CVnCoV which is currently in Phase 2b/3 trials. Using its established manufacturing network in Belgium, GSK aims to support manufacturing of up to 100 million doses of the vaccine in 2021.

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