Deal could see CureVac net up to $1.8 billion in upfront and milestone payments

Healthcare giant Eli Lilly and German biopharma specialist CureVac will team up to develop five messenger RNA (mRNA) cancer vaccines. The agreement will see Lilly make $95 million (£73 million) in upfront payments and equity investment. CureVac stand to receive up to a further $1.7 billion in milestone payments, dependent on the progress and eventual commercialisation of the products.

The companies will work together to develop vaccines based on CureVac’s mRNA technology to treat a range of tumour types. The plan is to use mRNA molecules that target tumour neoantigens to bring about anticancer immune responses.

CureVac will take the lead on mRNA design, formulation and production of clinical supplies; while Lilly will be responsible for target identification, clinical development and commercialisation.

The deal comes just a few months after CureVac hired a new chief executive at its Boston-based subsidiary. Daniel Menichella was appointed to help the company ‘directly engage’ US pharma communities and strike commercial partnerships.