CSL Seqirus and Arcturus ink $4.3 billion mRNA vaccine deal
Published: Nov 02, 2022
By Mark Terry
Under the deal, Arcturus will offer CSL a license to its mRNA technology, LUNAR and STARR, to help develop and commercialize vaccines.
Under the terms of the agreement, CSL Seqirus is licensing Arcturus’ STARR self-amplifying mRNA (sa-mRNA) technology, LUNAR lipid-mediated delivery and manufacturing expertise for mRNA drug substances and drug products. CSL Seqirus will handle the development and commercialization of the vaccines.
The two companies will work to advance vaccines against COVID-19, influenza, pandemic preparedness and three other common respiratory infectious diseases.
CSL will pay Arcturus $200 million upfront in the deal. Arcturus will be eligible for more than $1.3 billion in development milestone payments and more than $3 billion in commercial milestones. Arcturus is also eligible for a 40% net profit share for COVID-19 vaccine products and up to double-digit royalties for the other potential products.
A CSL Seqirus spokesperson told BioSpace that while its focus is still on influenza, this agreement will allow it to expand into other areas.
“This includes the near-term entry into COVID-19 vaccines with differentiated, next-generation mRNA technology, and the potential development of vaccines against other respiratory pathogens, including those with pandemic potential, all of which will help us achieve our future vision to become a global vaccines leader,” the spokesperson said.
How the Technology Works
LUNAR is a proprietary lipid-mediated nucleic acid delivery system. It leverages the company’s library of more than 250 proprietary lipids, which can be formulated to act as vectors for messenger RNA vaccines.
The STARR technology platform combines self-amplifying mRNA with LUNAR to act as a single solution to manufacture proteins in the body.
To date, the technology has supported Arcturus’s COVID-19 vaccines, which are currently in Phase III trials, and the ARCT-154 LUNAR-COV19 vaccine is under review in Vietnam.
Arcturus’ sa-mRNA design would allow for smaller doses of vaccines than the mRNA vaccines developed by Moderna, Pfizer and BioNTech. Arcturus’ approach also leverages a freeze-drying process that allows the vaccines to be stored at room temperature, then rehydrated.
This would offer significantly simpler and more convenient vaccine transport and cold-chain storage than the conventional mRNA vaccines to date.
CSL is a leader in producing influenza vaccines globally, with manufacturing facilities in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. It recently opened a new facility in Waltham, Mass.
In early October, CSL reported preclinical results from its sa-mRNA influenza vaccine candidate. The data demonstrated the potential of the technology to offer protection against pandemic and seasonal influenza in a single vaccine dose.
On Aug. 31, Arcturus reported that the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority had awarded it up to $63.2 million to fund the development of an sa-mRNA vaccine for rapid pandemic influenza response. The funds will support preclinical, manufacturing and nonclinical safety studies, as well as development and regulatory support for more than three years through Phase I clinical trials.