Sanofi, CureVac extend vax partnership with new $205M-plus mRNA pact

Sanofi Pasteur and Germany's CureVac first joined up in 2011 with a licensing option agreement for a slew of pathogens. Now, they're beefing up their partnership with another licensing deal, this one giving the French company rights to a new mRNA-based vaccine.

Sanofi has exercised its option for exclusive worldwide rights to develop and market the vaccine, which uses CureVac's RNActive technology and works against an undisclosed pathogen, the pair said earlier this week. The pact will bring CureVac an unspecified upfront payment, along with potential milestones worth up to €150.5 million ($205 million) and royalties tied to sales.

"Sanofi Pasteur's basic objective of finding new vaccine solutions to address patients' needs is furthered by our collaboration with CureVac," Nicolas Burdin, Sanofi's head of discovery research, said in a statement. "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."

The appeal of RNActive vaccines lies in their ability to withstand high temps and unintentional freezing, all the while staying safe and cost-effective. With many of the world's tropical areas prone to infectious diseases, producing vaccines that can hack it in extreme climates is a high priority for many vaccine makers.

Those factors also helped lead Sanofi to extend its options--exclusive and non-exclusive--on all 5 pathogens from the companies' original deal, which they inked nearly three years back to the tune of €150 million. Now that CureVac has met all the agreement's milestones and other criteria, Sanofi will fork over a separate undisclosed payment for extending the pathogens' option term.

CureVac CEO Ingmar Hoerr

"We are very pleased that our RNActive technology platform has reached all significant milestones in this important collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur, the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines," CureVac CEO Ingmar Hoerr said in a statement. "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."

- read the release

Special Report: Top 5 Vaccine Companies by Revenue - 2012 - Sanofi