Lilly and CureVac in Cancer Vaccines Pact

23.10.2017 -

In a deal that could lead to the development of five new cancer vaccines, US drugs giant Eli Lilly is investing in German biopharma CureVac.

Lilly will make an equity investment of $45 million in CureVac as well as an upfront payment of $50 million. However, the Tübingen-headquartered group could potentially receive more than $1.7 billion in development and commercialization milestones if all five vaccines are successfully developed, plus tiered royalties on product sales.

"We are excited to be collaborating with CureVac to discover what could potentially be the next frontier of cancer medicines," said Greg Plowman, vice president of oncology research at Lilly.

The collaboration will use CureVac's proprietary messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, RNActive, which targets tumour neoantigens for a more robust anti-cancer immune response. Lilly will be responsible for target identification, clinical development and commercialization. CureVac will be in charge of formulation and manufacturing clinical supplies and also has an option to co-promote the vaccines in Germany.

To date, CureVac has raised around $420 million in equity investments. Backers include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and German private equity group dievini Hopp BioTech Holding.