GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to buy a 10pc stake in German drugmaker CureVac for £130m in its latest collaboration to develop vaccine and antibody treatments.
The firms have signed a strategic collaboration agreement for the research, development and manufacturing of up to five mRNA-based vaccines and antibodies targeting infectious disease pathogens.
The FTSE 100 drugmaker will also make a cash payment of £104m to fund research and development of mRNA vaccines – a technology that scientists believe could create immunisation against Covid-19.
The companies said by using mRNA technology in vaccines and medicines, specific proteins – also known as antigens – can be produced by the body's own cells, enabling the immune system to prevent or fight disease.
The deal does not include CureVac's existing Covid-19 mRNA and rabies vaccines research programmes.
Roger Connor, president of GSK Vaccines, said: "GSK's self-amplifying mRNA (SAM) vaccine technology has shown us the potential of mRNA technology to advance the science of vaccine development, and CureVac's experience complements our own expertise."
Last month, the German government said it planned to buy a 23pc stake in CureVac for €300m (£273m).
It came after reports in German media that the White House had shown interest in the firm after an executive met with Donald Trump.
The report sparked fury in Berlin, however. CureVac later said there had not been an approach by the Trump administration and the executive who reportedly met with the US President had left the company.
Instead of developing its own coronavirus vaccine, GSK has focused on contributing its expertise to multiple partnerships, including China’s Clover.
Earlier this month, the London-listed firm teamed up with Medicago, a Canadian biotechnology company partly owned by tobacco giant Philip Morris, to develop and test an experimental Covid-19 vaccine.
The collaboration will combine Medicago’s plant-based production platform with GSK’s adjuvant technologies – substances that enhance the body’s immune response.
Shares in GSK fell 0.6pc to £16.50.