Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation invests $55 million in an infectious disease collaboration that could reach up to $100 million in total funding.
Mainz, Germany – BioNTech SE, a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on patient-specific immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and other serious diseases, announced today that it has signed an agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (the Gates Foundation) to develop HIV and tuberculosis programs, further expanding the Company’s infectious disease portfolio. This partnership includes an initial equity investment of $55 million, which is expected to close within the next week. The funds will be used to develop preclinical vaccine and immunotherapy candidates to prevent HIV and tuberculosis infection as well as to lead to durable antiretroviral therapy-free remission of HIV disease. Total funding under the collaboration could reach $100 million through potential future grant funding from the Gates Foundation that would be used to underwrite the evaluation of these candidates in the clinic and support the initiation of new infectious disease projects.
“We are thrilled about the partnership with the Gates Foundation and the outstanding network of infectious disease specialists that it has built,” said Prof. Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech. “Targeting severe infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV infection is in line with our mission to leverage our immunotherapy capabilities not only for cancer but also beyond, in disease areas of high medical need.”
“Despite remarkable advances in global health since 1990, current approaches to preventing and treating tuberculosis – the world’s leading cause of death from infectious disease – and HIV infection remain inadequate,” said Lynda Stuart, Deputy Director, Vaccines and Human Immunobiology, Discovery and Translational Sciences at the Gates Foundation. “BioNTech’s innovative mRNA-based approach and in-depth understanding of the immune system offer exciting pathways to develop effective new immune-based therapies that could dramatically reduce the global incidence of HIV and tuberculosis. We believe this partnership will add to our portfolio of innovative tools and could make a significant impact.”
Under the terms of the agreement, the collaboration will fund the identification of potential HIV and tuberculosis vaccine and immunotherapy candidates and their pre-clinical development. It will further enable BioNTech to build out its infectious disease infrastructure, including platform development and may allow the Company to initiate three new additional programs within its infectious disease portfolio. All programs will utilize BioNTech’s proprietary platforms and the Company will retain rights for commercialization of the vaccine and immunotherapy candidates in the developed world while providing affordable access to the candidates in developing countries.
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