AstraZeneca is investing in Imperial’s self-amplifying RNA technology with a view to future medicines

London — AstraZeneca Plc signed an agreement on Thursday with the company behind the experimental COVID-19 vaccine at Imperial College London to develop and market a drug based on a self-amplifying RNA technology platform in other disease areas. ..

Under this agreement, Vax Equity, a startup founded by imperial vaccine scholar Robin Chatok, will be in addition to approved drug loyalty and equity investments from AstraZeneca and life sciences investors Morningside Ventures. If certain milestones are achieved, you may receive up to $ 195 million.

AstraZeneca has already produced the adenovirus vector COVID-19 vaccine, highlighting the potential of self-amplifying RNA (saRNA) technology in new therapeutic programs that transcend the coronavirus pandemic.

“This collaboration with Vax Equity adds a promising new platform to the drug discovery toolbox,” said Mene Pangalos, AstraZeneca’s Head of Research.

This technology works in the same way as the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine produced by Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna.

However, self-amplifying RNA vaccines not only encode instructions for host cells to make coronavirus proteins, but also make large copies of RNA containing those instructions, resulting in lower doses and lower cost. Can be

“It’s a bit like having a manufacturing facility. Instead of having one copy of the recipe, there are multiple copies that can be passed to multiple production lines in the cell to produce more protein.” Imperial Chatok told Reuters. “That’s why you have the opportunity to use low doses.”

Under this agreement, AstraZeneca has the option to collaborate on 26 drug discovery targets for use in diseases such as cancer and rare genetic disorders.

US companies Gritstonebio and Arcturus are also developing the saRNACOVID-19 vaccine.

Chatock said the Phase I results of the purified vaccine would be ready early next year.

“The reason we were late was because we came from an academic environment,” he said. “If we had this relationship (with AstraZeneca) in early 2020, it would have been faster.”