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Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation shows faith in CureVac

Published on 14/02/18 at 09:18am
IMAGE: Wikipedia/Abdar

The Bill & Melina Gates Foundation had already invested $52 million in CureVac, back in 2015, and has now doubled down on its investment, as the biotech announced that the foundation had boosted its funding by giving two more grants.

Details on the scale and exact use of the grants were limited in the press release, with CureVac only revealing that the money will be harnessed to utilise its RNActive prophylactic vaccine technology to develop mRNA-based vaccines. The two targets of the vaccines will be the influenza and malaria viruses.

Ingmar Hoerr, co-founder and CEO of CureVac, commented: “We’re pleased that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has expanded our ongoing collaboration to include influenza and malaria, two of the largest global health challenges. Successfully exploring the potential of the mRNA platform for development of a universal flu vaccine would be a consequential achievement, benefitting much of the world’s population. Our mRNA platform enables the cost-effective and fast manufacturing of vaccines to prevent these and other serious diseases, potentially making a difference in the lives of millions of people around the world.”

The release pointed to the fluctuating nature of the influenza virus and the egg-based production of vaccines to being some of the factors leading to difficulties during the flu season this year.

As mentioned by Hoerr, the hope is that CureVac will be able develop a universal flu vaccine offering protection against all influenza A strains for more than one flu season, negating some of these difficulties.

If a universal vaccine were to be developed, it would mean that development of influenza vaccines would not need to run on a yearly cycle – allowing for more focused research on broader preventatives.

The German biotech’s technology has already won it big pharma admirers away from vaccines, with Eli Lilly having signed an immuno-oncology deal in October of last year to develop five potential cancer vaccines and Boehringer Ingelheim having offered a potential $600 million to gain rights to the biotech’s therapeutic cancer vaccine candidate, CV9202.

Ben Hargreaves

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