CureVac has licensed to Sanofi Pasteur the rights to develop and commercialize an mRNA-based vaccine against an undisclosed pathogen, in an expansion of three years’ worth of partnerships between the companies. The deal is expected to net CureVac more than €150.5 million ($205.9 million).

Under the companies’ new commercial license agreement, Sanofi Pasteur agreed to fund all research, development, manufacturing and commercialization activities, and will retain exclusive worldwide marketing rights for the RNActive® vaccine.

RNActive is based on a new technology platform that uses optimized, antigen-encoding and complexed mRNA molecules to produce mRNA-based vaccines against infectious diseases and cancer. RNActive vaccines are designed to be protected against elevated temperature, as well as inadvertent freezing. CureVac operates its own multi-product GMP facility that allows the production of all mRNA vaccines from a common platform.

The new deal broadens a collaboration launched in 2011, when CureVac and Sanofi Pasteur signed a license option agreement for several predefined pathogens. Sanofi Pasteur exercised its first option and extended its exclusive and nonexclusive options on all five pathogens after CureVac met all pre-agreed milestones and acceptance criteria relating to these agreements.

In the new deal, Sanofi Pasteur will pay CureVac an undisclosed upfront payment for the exercise of its option, and an additional undisclosed payment for extending the option term for the other pathogens.

In addition, CureVac is eligible for additional payments of up to €150.5 million ($205.9 million) tied to achieving several clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones, as well as royalty payments associated with products sales of RNActivevaccines.

“Accessing CureVac's innovative mRNA technology may allow Sanofi Pasteur to exploit a platform that can be more broadly applicable across indications to develop vaccines, as the RNActive technology is expected to complement conventional technologies,” Nicolas Burdin, head of discovery research at Sanofi Pasteur, said in a statement.

Added CureVac CEO Ingmar Hoerr: “Our mRNA-based approach shows significant advantages for the development of vaccines, particularly for infectious diseases, such as thermostability and low cost of goods after up-scaling.”

CureVac won the €2 million ($2.7 million) Vaccine Prize of the European Commission in March for RNActive, based on its potential to bring safe, effective and affordable vaccines worldwide, even to the most remote areas, without requiring a cold chain.

CureVac and Sanofi Pasteur are also partners with In-Cell-Art in a four-year, $33.1 million research collaboration co-funded by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), also announced in 2011. Additional details of that collaboration have not been disclosed. 

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