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AstraZeneca to collaborate with VaxEquity on RNA therapeutics

AstraZeneca will partner with VaxEquity for the discovery and development of a self-amplifying RNA (saRNA) therapeutics platform.

Glowing RNA molecule

AstraZeneca has agreed to collaborate with VaxEquity for the discovery, development and commercialisation of the proprietary self-amplifying RNA (saRNA) therapeutics platform developed at Imperial College London.

VaxEquity was founded by Imperial College London and Morningside in 2020 based on the innovative saRNA technology developed by Professor Robin Shattock and his colleagues at Imperial College London, UK.

The long-term research collaboration aims to optimise and validate VaxEquity’s saRNA platform and apply it to advance novel therapeutic programmes. AstraZeneca will support VaxEquity with R&D funding and, should AstraZeneca advance any of the research programmes into its pipeline, VaxEquity could receive development, approval and sales-based milestones totalling up to $195 million and royalties in the mid-single digits per programme. AstraZeneca also has the option to collaborate with VaxEquity on up to 26 drug targets and will also make an investment in VaxEquity to further the development of the saRNA platform.

saRNA is a new platform for the development of medicines and vaccines which uses similar technology to mRNA but with the added ability to self-amplify, consequently expressing proteins for longer, resulting in higher protein levels per dose level. This has the potential to allow saRNAs to be delivered at lower concentrations than conventional mRNA therapeutics, leading to less frequent or lower dosing, lower costs and a much broader range of potential applications. The saRNA platform aims to underpin the next generation of RNA-delivered medicines enabling not only vaccines but also broad range of therapeutic applications.

“We are delighted to collaborate with AstraZeneca given its strong track record in innovation and welcome them as a new investor,” stated Executive Chairman of VaxEquity Michael Watson. “With our self-amplifying RNA platform, we aim to underpin the next generation of RNA-delivered medicines enabling not only vaccines but also broad range of therapeutics applications.”

“I am deeply proud of my colleagues’ work in pioneering self-amplifying RNA technology,” added Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial College London. “This collaboration will help realise our ambition of building a lasting legacy from the great scientific advances Imperial made in this pandemic.”

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