The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is investing $52 million in CureVac, a German biopharmaceutical company focused on mRNA-based vaccine technologies.
The investment, which is the largest made by the foundation in a company, will support development of CureVac's platform technology and the construction of a GMP production facility. The foundation will also provide separate funding for several projects to develop prophylactic vaccines based on CureVac's mRNA platform. The organizations plan to develop and produce numerous vaccines against infectious diseases affecting people in developing countries.
CureVac said it is pioneering the use of natural and chemically unmodified mRNA as a data carrier to instruct the human body to produce its own proteins capable of fighting a wide range of diseases. Its mRNA vaccines are thermostable, which eliminates the demand for cold-chain storage and infrastructure, according to the company.
In addition to the equity investment, the Gates Foundation said it will provide funding for multiple projects developing vaccines for viral, bacterial, and parasitic infectious diseases. The foundation has begun collaborating with CureVac on initial projects for diseases such as rotavirus and HIV.
“If we can teach the body to create its own natural defenses, we can revolutionize the way we treat and prevent diseases,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the foundation. “Technologies like mRNA give us confidence to place big bets for the future. We are pleased to partner with CureVac who has been pioneering this technology.”
In addition, CureVac's longstanding investor dievini Hopp BioTech announced a commitment of $24 million of additional equity.
“When I first met CureVac's founders 10 years ago, their vision and technology reminded me of the beginnings of the software industry: mRNA is like software that is able to teach the body to reprogram itself in order to fight cancer and infectious disease. Even today I am not aware of any other biomolecule with such versatile potential,” said Dietmar Hopp, founder of dievini Hopp Biotech, the primary shareholder in CureVac.