Gritstone goes back to Genevant to boost power of infectious disease vaccine programs

As part of efforts to develop self-amplifying RNA-based vaccines against a range of infectious diseases, Gritstone bio has tapped regular collaborator Genevant Sciences to again use its lipid nanoparticle tech.

Genevant will be in line for milestone payments reaching $136 million per product produced from the collaboration, which could increase further for any vaccines aimed at multiple pathogens. The biotech, one of Roivant’s various "vant" offshoots, could also receive option maintenance and exercise fees as well as royalties in the “mid to high single digits” should any candidates make it to market.

The latest agreement expands on a similar partnership from 2021, when Gritstone obtained a nonexclusive license to Genevant’s LNP tech to use in the development of a self-amplifying RNA vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. Gritstone currently has a COVID-19 vaccine produced from this program in a number of phase 1 trials.

When the COVID-19 partnership was first announced, Genevant explained that optimized LNP characteristics “can provide substantial advantages in safety, efficacy and pharmaceutical profiles” for vaccines.

“Our previous collaborations with Genevant have demonstrated the powerful potential of combining the strengths of two technology leaders, and we are pleased to expand our relationship with this new agreement,” Gritstone CEO Andrew Allen, M.D., Ph.D., said in this morning’s release.

Alongside the COVID-19 vaccine, Gritstone has one other clinical-stage infectious disease program in the works in the form of an HIV vaccine collaboration with Gilead Sciences. The biotech also lists preclinical work in flu, human papillomavirus infection and a vaccine targeting multiple respiratory conditions.

The remainder of Gritstone’s pipeline is focused on oncology, with an “individualized” neoantigen vaccine in phase 2 trials for colorectal cancer, along with an “off-the-shelf” KRAS-directed vaccine that is due to enter midstage trials next year.

“With the established complementarity between our samRNA technology and Genevant’s LNP technology, evident in clinical datasets in both oncology and infectious disease, we are now even better positioned to capitalize on the emergence of RNA vaccines and therapeutics to address a broader array of infectious diseases,” Allen added in the release.