CureVac and Sanofi Pasteur have signed a potentially €150 million-plus vaccine development option agreement in parallel with initiating a $33.1 million Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARP) co-funded collaboration with In-Cell-Art, focused on developing vaccines against infectious diseases based on CureVac’s RNActive® technology. The four-year DARPA-supported program will exploit CureVac’s RNActive technology along with In-Cell-Art’s nanoparticle expertise and Sanofi’s vaccine development capabilities.
The option agreement signed between Sanofi and CureVac in parallel with the DARPA collaboration covers pre-agreed license terms for the development of vaccines against a number of predefined pathogens. Under terms of this option, if exercised, CureVac could receive up to €101.5 million in up-front and milestone payments, plus royalties, if Sanofi Pasteur develops either a prophylactic or therapeutic vaccine against each pathogen, and up to €150.5 million if Sanofi Pasteur develops both a prophylactic and a therapeutic vaccine. The latter would be responsible for funding all R&D activities, and would have exclusive global marketing rights for RNActive vaccines selected under the option. CureVac would, in turn, retain the rights to its own core development programs and to the background technology for all applications outside those encompassed by the Sanofi Pasteur option.
CureVac says the multiyear collaboration will allow it to strengthen its technology platform and scale it up for commercial use. “The opportunity to collaborate with Sanofi Pasteur is an exciting step as we continue to demonstrate, in both the commercial and defense-related settings, the broad applicability and versatility of our RNActive technology platform,” comments Karl-Josef Kallen, head of R&D.
CureVac is exploiting its RNActive technology to develop mRNA-based therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines in the fields of oncology and infectious diseases. The firm’s lead in-house therapeutic vaccines, CV9103 and CV9201, are in Phase II development for the treatment of prostate cancer and lung cancer, respectively. CV9103 comprises four RNActive molecules encoding four prostate-specific antigens, and has successfully completed an open-label Phase I/IIa clinical study in patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer and rising PSA levels.
CV9201 comprises five RNActive molecules encoding antigens that are commonly overexpressed in non-small cell lung cancer. The vaccine has been evaluated in a Phase I/IIa study in patients with stage III or IV non-small cell lung cancer who had previously undergone heavy pretreatment with chemotherapy.