CureVac, GSK Report Strong Lab Data for Next-Generation Shot

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CureVac NV and GlaxoSmithKline Plc released positive early data from laboratory testing of their second-generation Covid-19 vaccine, with signs the shot could also provide good protection against some variants of the virus.

Preclinical studies showed strong immune responses in rats, with significant neutralization of variants first discovered in the U.K., South Africa and Denmark, CureVac said in a statement Thursday. Human trials are expected to start in the third quarter.

Shares of CureVac, which is based in Germany, rose as much as 5.8% in New York. Glaxo traded 0.3% lower in London.

The shot is based on a new messenger-RNA backbone designed to allow for strong immune responses at low doses that could help support the creation of multivalent vaccines -- shots that protect against multiple variants of Covid-19. The companies said in February they are aiming to have a next-generation candidate approved by 2022 as part of a 150 million-euro ($180 million) collaboration.

CureVac, GSK Report Strong Lab Data for Next-Generation Shot

A strong second-generation shot could help quiet some of the criticism Glaxo has faced over its Covid-19 effort. As one of the world’s largest vaccine makers, the pharmaceutical giant has disappointed investors by not being on the frontlines of the vaccine race after a setback in its partnership with Sanofi meant a trial had to be restarted. Results from that study are expected this month. CureVac is also expected to publish data from advanced trials of its first-generation mRNA vaccine in the coming weeks.

The technology, also used in shots from Moderna Inc. as well as a partnership of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, “has made tremendous progress since the clinical development of first-generation mRNA COVID-19 vaccine candidates started in early 2020,” said Igor Splawski, CureVac’s chief scientific officer, in the statement.

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