Sanofi Pasteur taps CureVac for its RNA vaccine tech

CureVac CEO Ingmar Hoerr

Germany's CureVac will implement its RNA stabilizing RNActive technology in its new collaboration with French firm Sanofi Pasteur to develop a messenger RNA-based vaccine targeting an undisclosed pathogen.

"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," said Nicolas Burdin, head of discovery research at Sanofi Pasteur, in a July 1 statement.

According to, the technology works by limiting single-stranded RNA's interaction with ribonucleases, promoting the stability of the RNA molecule.

RNA vaccines cause the body "to produce it own drug. We just deliver the right message to the body," CureVac spokeswoman Verena Lauterbach told BioPharma-Reporter. The message takes the form of a modified mRNA ribonucleotide sequence. "Only the sequence of those nucleotides determines which antigen is used for vaccination whereas with classical vaccines you always have to produce an individual biological/recombinant product," Lauterbach explained.

Under the terms of the agreement, Sanofi's ($SNY) vaccine arm will fund all research, development, manufacturing and commercialization activities, and have exclusive rights to the vaccine. The deal extends the two company's collaboration agreement struck in 2011. CureVac will receive royalty payments for all RNAActive vaccines as well as up to €150.5 ($205 million) in milestone payments, according to the statement. In addition, CureVac receives upfront payments for the contract extension, which covers a variety of pathogens.

"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," said Ingmar Hoerr, CEO of CureVac, 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."

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