Eli Lilly has signed up CureVac to develop cancer vaccines based on its mRNA technology, in a deal that could potentially be worth more than $2.6 billion to the German biotech.
The collaboration will focus on the development and commercialisation of up to five potential cancer vaccine products based on CureVac's proprietary RNActive technology, which targets tumour neoantigens for “a more robust” anti-cancer immune response.
The alliance will see Lilly in control of target identification, clinical development and commercialisation, while CureVac is responsible for mRNA design, formulation and manufacturing of clinical supply and retains the option to co-promote the vaccine products in Germany.
CureVac will receive an upfront payment of $50 million and an equity investment of 45 million Euros from Lilly, but could also potentially bank more than $1.7 billion in development and commercialisation 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, while Ingmar Hoerr, co-founder and chief executive of CureVac, said the deal provides the “opportunity to combine forces to further expand the exciting space of immuno-oncology with the next generation of cancer therapies”.