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Pfizer, BioNTech partner on mRNA-based flu vaccines

BioNTech AG, a biotechnology company focused on precise immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and infectious disease has entered into a multi-year research and development (R&D) collaboration with Pfizer to develop mRNA-based vaccines for prevention of influenza.

“Today’s agreement with Pfizer is one of a number of steps that we are taking to rapidly build a sustainable R&D presence in infectious disease, combining our deep understanding of the immune system to treat disease with the cutting-edge technologies and significant infrastructure that we have built-up over many years to develop immunotherapy treatments,” BioNTech co-founder and CEO Ugur Sahin, said, in a press statement. “A significant presence in infectious disease supports our goal of building a global immunotherapy company that provides more effective and precise immune-mediated approaches for the prevention and treatment of serious illnesses, such as the prevention of flu and the treatment of cancer.”

“Innovative vaccine approaches are urgently needed to provide improved protection against seasonal flu, and to respond rapidly and in quantity to pandemic influenza threats,” senior vice president and head of Pfizer’s vaccine research and development unit Kathrin Jansen said, in a press statement. "mRNA vaccines offer a novel approach to code for any protein or multiple proteins, and the potential to manufacture higher potency flu vaccines more rapidly and at a lower cost than contemporary flu vaccines. BioNTech is one of the industry leaders in mRNA technology and we are looking forward to working closely with them to help bring cutting-edge mRNA influenza vaccines to the market to improve people’s lives.”

BioNTech will receive $120 million in upfront, equity and near-term research payments and up to an additional $305 million in potential development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments. In addition, BioNTech will receive up to double-digit tiered royalty payments associated with worldwide sales if the program reaches commercialization, according to the company.
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