CSL Brings Next-Gen Vaccines to Australia in $313mn Deal


Biotech giant CSL will accelerate investment in messenger-RNA technologies through a $313 million licensing deal with US medicines maker Arcturus Therapeutics, which is developing mRNA vaccines to fight influenza and COVID.

Article Summary

CSL told investors on Wednesday that its vaccine arm, CSL Seqirus, had inked a deal with Arcturus that would give the CSL the exclusive licence to the company’s technology in the fields of influenza, COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases, and non-exclusive rights to other products for “multi-pathogen pandemic preparedness”.

Arcturus is based in San Diego and is working on a range of late-stage products for “self-amplifying” messenger-RNA vaccines, which are also called next-generation mRNA products.

These type of products differ from the mRNA vaccines currently on the market for COVID-19 and typically require lower doses because they are designed so the strand of messenger-RNA, which delivers instructions to the body on how to fight disease, replicates itself once inside the cell.

Researchers are also hoping these vaccines won’t have to be stored and transported at very low temperatures, and are aiming for products that can be stored at between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius.

Arcturus has a range of late-stage vaccine candidates in development, including a COVID shot that has recently completed a phase 3 trial.

CSL has also been working in the self-amplifying mRNA space, developing an influenza vaccine using this approach.

The company will pay Arcturus $US200 million ($313 million) upfront for access to its technology, with more payments on the table, depending on hitting commercial milestones.


The investment comes as Moderna’s entry into the Australian market throws down a significant challenge to CSL, which has traditionally focused on making egg and cell-based flu vaccines.

The agreement opens the door for CSL Seqirus to make these mRNA vaccines onshore at its Tullamarine vaccine facility, which is under construction and slated for completion in 2024.

CSL chief operator Paul McKenzie said the deal would complement CSL’s own research into self-amplifying mRNA.

“These combined capabilities will accelerate our journey in mRNA,” he said.

CSL Seqirus general manager Steve Marlow said the deal also fitted with CSL’s strategy of bringing enhanced flu and products for pandemic preparedness to market.

“The collaboration also provides a pathway to offer a COVID-19 booster, providing another differentiated option to healthcare providers and governments around the world,” he said.

CSL will unveil further details on the progress of its research pipeline, which includes a world-first gene therapy for haemophilia B, at its research and development day on Thursday.


 About CSL Behring.

CSL Behring is a biopharmaceutical company, manufacturing plasma-derived, and recombination therapeutic products. Its line of therapies includes products for the treatment of bleeding disorders such as hemophilia and von Willebrand Disease; primary immune deficiencies (PIDD); hereditary angioedema; inherited respiratory disease; and neurological disorders. The company’s products are also used in cardiac surgery, organ transplantation, burn treatment, and to prevent hemolytic diseases in newborns.


[Source: CSL inks $313m deal to bring ‘next-generation’ flu, COVID vaccines to Australia (smh.com.au)]



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