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GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has signed an agreement with German company CureVac to research, develop, manufacture and commercialise up to five mRNA-based vaccines and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against infectious diseases.

The terms of the agreement will provide GSK with approximately 10% stake in CureVac with an equity investment of $163m (£130m).

Also, GSK will make an upfront payment of $130m (£104m), along with a one-time reimbursable payment of $32m (£26m) to reserve production capacity at CureVac’s commercial-scale manufacturing facility being built in Germany.

The collaboration will leverage GSK’s existing mRNA capabilities and CureVac’s mRNA platform, which is expected to complement the former’s existing vaccines expertise.

Furthermore, the project is set to build on GSK’s mAb research capabilities, in line with the company’s focus on immunology research and development (R&D).

GSK Vaccines president Roger Connor said: “GSK’s self-amplifying mRNA (SAM) vaccine technology has shown us the potential of mRNA technology to advance the science of vaccine development, and CureVac’s experience complements our own expertise.

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“Through the application of mRNA technology, including SAM, we hope to be able to develop and scale-up advanced vaccines and therapies to treat and prevent infectious diseases quicker than ever before.”

The partnership will explore development across various infectious disease indications. The companies noted that CureVac’s existing Covid-19 mRNA and rabies vaccine programmes are not covered under this agreement.

In addition to the equity investment and upfront payment, CureVac will be eligible for $348m (£277m) in development and regulatory milestones, up to $413m (£329m) in commercial milestones, as well as sales royalties.

CureVac acting CEO Dr Franz-Werner Haas said: “With this collaboration, we are gaining a world-class partner whose expertise and global footprint will allow us to further develop and translate the value of our platform into potential products for the world.”

GSK agreed to fund R&D activities at CureVac, which will carry out preclinical- and clinical development through Phase I clinical trials of the programmes under the new alliance.

Later, GSK will take up responsibility for further development and commercialisation.

Earlier this month, GSK partnered with Canadian biopharmaceutical firm Medicago to develop, assess and manufacture a plant-based adjuvanted Covid-19 vaccine candidate.