Lilly and CureVac Partner on mRNA Cancer Vaccines in $1.8-Billion Deal

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The companies aim to use CureVac’s proprietary messenger RNA technology to develop and commercialize up to five potential cancer vaccine products.

On Oct. 18, 2017, Eli Lilly and Company announced a global immune-oncology collaboration potentially worth more than $1.8 billion with CureVac, a German company focused on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, to develop and commercialize up to five potential cancer vaccine products based on CureVac's proprietary RNActive technology. The companies will use mRNA technology that targets tumor neoantigens to achieve a more robust anti-cancer immune response.

Under the agreement, CureVac will receive an upfront payment of $50 million, an equity investment of EUR 45 million (US$53 million), and potentially more than $1.7 billion in development and commercialization milestones if all five vaccines are successfully developed. In addition, the company would get tiered royalties on product sales. Lilly is responsible for target identification, clinical development, and commercialization. CureVac will be responsible for mRNA design, formulation, and manufacturing of clinical supply. It will also retain the option to co-promote the vaccine products in Germany.

The collaboration will use CureVac's proprietary RNActive technology to deliver mRNA that ultimately directs the human immune system to target encoded neoantigens, which are thought to instruct the patient's existing immune system to mount a selective and potent response to eradicate cancer.

"We are excited to be collaborating with CureVac to discover what could potentially be the next frontier of cancer medicines," said Greg Plowman, MD, PhD, vice president of oncology research at Lilly, in a company press release. "This collaboration reinforces Lilly's commitment to delivering life-changing medicines to treat and cure people living with cancer around the world."


Source: Eli Lilly and Company

*Article has been updated to reflect correct total amound of deal, which is $1.8 billion, not $2.73 billion.