Just a few days ago researchers at J&J reviewed the latest data from an early-stage study of its HIV vaccine, touting evidence that the mosaic immunogen project it was working on successfully spurred antibodies against the lethal virus in all of the hundreds of patients treated in a Phase I/II trial. Today, the company added some new vaccine tech from Bavarian Nordic that it plans to include in its HIV program, as well as its hep B work.
The deal starts off modestly, with a $10 million upfront and $33 million for an equity stake in Copenhagen-based Bavarian Nordic. Expanding on a collaboration that’s already in place, J&J gets the biotech’s MVA-BN tech. And if everything works out perfectly, there’s another $836 million in milestones on the table, plus royalties.
MVA-BN is central to Bavarian Nordic’s vaccine platform, using an attenuated version of the Modified Vaccinia Ankara virus to safely trigger an immune reaction.
J&J knows the tech well, having lined it up for an Ebola vaccine back in 2014.
Right now J&J is prepping for a Phase IIb trial for an HIV vaccine — combining Ad26 mosaic candidate and the Clade C gp140 soluble protein — now scheduled to get underway in southern African countries either later this year or early next.
An HIV vaccine has been a Holy Grail in the R&D field for decades, but has proven to be an incredibly complex challenge. Earlier disappointments in the field underscored just how hard this is.
“We are very excited about this additional collaboration with Janssen, and proud to deploy our MVA-platform in the fight against two diseases with such an enormous impact on global health,” said Paul Chaplin, CEO of Bavarian Nordic. “This agreement builds upon the science and data we have seen to date, which has shown the potential that a combination of our two platforms could serve many patients in a wide range of disease areas. We welcome this expansion of what has already been a fantastic relationship between our two companies.”
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