BioNTech and Genevant Forge mRNA Therapeutics Development Agreement

Pharma Deal

BioNTech AG and Genevant Sciences entered into a strategic partnership to develop five therapeutics to treat rare diseases with high unmet medical need using a mRNA drug discovery platform.

The two companies will combine Genevant’s lipid nanoparticle (LNP) delivery technology and BioNTech’s mRNA platform to develop the best-in-class therapeutics, the companies said. The companies plan to have five to 10 programs across RNAi, mRNA, and gene editing modalities in the clinic by 2020. What those targets are was not disclosed in the announcement.

Genevant’s delivery technologies can facilitate therapeutic approaches covering a broad spectrum of payloads, the companies said. Genevant has begun development on numerous programs across multiple RNA modalities and anticipates having five to 10 RNA programs in the clinic by 2020 targeting a range of genetic disorders with limited or no treatment options.

Additionally, BioNTech and Genevant have agreed to a series of exclusive licenses that cover the application of Genevant’s delivery technology to five of BioNTech’s oncology programs. The collaboration strengthens BioNTech’s position in mRNA-based immune-oncology treatments through exclusive licenses to Genevant’s LNP technology for five of BioNTech’s proprietary oncology programs, the companies said in their joint announcement. As part of the deal, Genevant will be eligible to receive “significant commercial milestones” for the oncology licenses. Both companies have established GMP-grade manufacturing capabilities and infrastructure.

“This partnership with Genevant will allow us to access a highly potent, clinically validated LNP delivery platform. Genevant’s liver-targeted platform complements our existing capabilities for dendritic cell-specific delivery of mRNA encoded antigens used in the development of our cancer vaccine pipeline,” Ugur Sahin, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of BioNTech said in a statement.

Under terms of the deal between the two companies, Genevant and BioNTech will share all future costs and profits for these programs on a 50/50 basis.

Paris Panayiotopoulos, executive chairman of Genevant, said the 50/50 partnership with BioNTech to develop rare disease mRNA therapeutics “recognizes the critical importance of both best-in-class nucleic acids and their delivery in RNA drug development.” 

“BioNTech’s impressive molecular design expertise and Genevant’s leadership in RNA delivery are the ideal combination for developing cutting edge mRNA therapies for rare disease patients who have limited or no treatment options today,” Panayiotopoulos said.

BioNTech is Europe’s largest privately-held biopharmaceutical company aimed at the development of individualized therapies for cancer and other diseases. Those therapies range from individualized mRNA-based medicines through innovative chimeric antigen receptors and T-cell receptor-based products to novel checkpoint immunomodulators and small molecules. The company has formed multiple partnerships across the industry, including companies like Genentech, Genmab, Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Bayer Animal Health.

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