vaccineCureVac, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company pioneering the field of mRNA-based technology, has announced that the company has initiated its third target product development programme in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The programme will leverage CureVac’s RNActive technology platform in the development of a prophylactic vaccine to protect against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), adding to the development programmes previously initiated by CureVac and the Gates Foundation targeting mRNA vaccines for HIV and Rotavirus.

“We’re pleased to intensify our collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with this RSV vaccine development-programme,” said Ingmar Hoerr, CEO of CureVac. “This project is our third infectious disease programme to be developed in collaboration with the foundation, and we are honoured to have the opportunity to utilize our mRNA technology to fight a host of diseases that have a disproportionate impact on the world’s poorest countries.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, RSV is a common virus spread through coughing and sneezing that is most prevalent during fall, winter and spring. RSV can be especially serious for infants and older adults. Currently, there is no vaccine available to prevent RSV infection.

In March 2015, the Gates Foundation participated with $52 million in CureVac’s financing round of a total of $76 million in the form of an equity investment to support continued development of CureVac’s RNA technology platform and the construction of an industrial scale Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) production facility.

As part of this partnership, CureVac and the Gates Foundation anticipate that they will also collaborate on the development and production of numerous vaccines against infectious diseases that disproportionately affect people in the world’s poorest countries.

Under the terms of the agreement, any Gates Foundation funded products will be made available by CureVac at an affordable price in poor countries, while CureVac will be able to market such products in developed countries on its own, through licensees or a combination of both. In addition, the new manufacturing facility will have dedicated capacity to focus on products resulting from Gates Foundation-related projects.