German biopharmaceutical firm BioNTech has partnered with Genevant Sciences, a genetic disorder therapeutics maker, to develop mRNA therapy programmes, which target rare diseases with high unmet medical need.

As part of the alliance, the companies will jointly develop and commercialise five mRNA therapeutic programmes. The partners also agreed to share costs and profits equally for these programmes.

Clinical development for these drugs is scheduled to be commenced in 2020.

Genevant Sciences executive chairman Paris Panayiotopoulos said: “This 50/50 partnership to develop rare disease mRNA therapeutics recognizes the critical importance of both best-in-class nucleic acids and their delivery in RNA drug development.

“BioNTech’s impressive molecular design expertise and Genevant’s leadership in RNA delivery are the ideal combination for developing cutting edge mRNA therapies for rare disease patients who have limited or no treatment options today.”

The collaboration additionally includes exclusive licences for the application of Genevant’s lipid nanoparticle (LNP) delivery technology for five oncology programmes of BioNTech, which in turn will pay significant commercial milestones.

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This LNP delivery technology has been validated for safety and efficacy in a total of more than 400 patients. The partners intend to combine the LNP technology with BioNTech’s mRNA drug discovery platform.

“BioNTech’s molecular design expertise and Genevant’s leadership in RNA delivery are the ideal combination for developing cutting edge mRNA therapies.”

BioNTech co-founder and CEO Ugur Sahin said: “This partnership with Genevant will allow us to access a highly potent, clinically validated LNP delivery platform.

“Genevant’s liver-targeted platform complements our existing capabilities for dendritic cell-specific delivery of mRNA encoded antigens used in the development of our cancer vaccine pipeline.”

BioNTech carries expertise in mRNA therapy development, its manufacturing infrastructure, understanding on mechanisms of action and clinical applications.

The company is said to additionally include a scalable, ‘just-in-time’ manufacturing capability to generate its tailored therapies for patients.

Its therapies have been evaluated on over 400 patients across multiple clinical programmes.