CureVac scores $85M loan to scale COVID-19 shot manufacturing at German site

German vaccine maker CureVac recently raised eyebrows for its reported work with electric car maker Tesla to produce mobile mRNA printers to help scale production of a COVID-19 shot. Now, the company has notched a substantial loan from the EU that will help it scale its vaccine manufacturing capacity.

CureVac has scored a nearly $85 million loan from the EU to expand manufacturing at its Tübingen, Germany, facility for its mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, the company said Monday.

CureVac will use the European Investment Bank-financed loan to expand its existing mRNA production suites as well as build a fourth facility at the Tübingen site. The loan will come in three $28.3 million tranches paid "upon completion of pre-defined milestones," CureVac said.

One of a growing group of drugmakers in the race for a COVID-19 shot, CureVac recently captured global attention for its reported work with Tesla to produce mobile mRNA vaccine "printers" and a major investment from the German government.

RELATED: Tesla teams up with CureVac to make 'RNA microfactories' for COVID-19 shot, Musk says

Last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the electric car maker was working with CureVac to produce its mobile mRNA printers "as a side project" and might seek more partners in the effort.

In February 2019, CureVac received a $34 million, three-year grant from the Coalition for Emergency Preparedness Innovations to develop its proprietary RNA printer prototype to churn out mRNA vaccine candidates for Lassa fever, yellow fever and rabies.

CureVac's printers are designed to quickly create mRNA vaccine candidates against known pathogens, plus new and unknown diseases, a category the World Health Organization calls “Disease X.” After preclinical work, the partners aim to advance two vaccine candidates against named diseases into phase 1 testing.

Along the way, CureVac will continue collaborating with its existing partners, including the University of Wisconsin.

RELATED: CureVac gets OK to start testing mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in humans

As CureVac scales up its mRNA production on two fronts, the vaccine maker is also walking its COVID-19 vaccine, CVnCoV, through human testing.

CureVac's shot received German and Belgian regulatory clearance to enter phase 1 human testing in mid-June. The start of the 168-subject study came days after the German government invested $337 million in CureVac to support its efforts to develop and manufacture a vaccine against the coronavirus.