Pfizer, BioNTech to develop shingles shot, after COVID-19 vaccine success

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Pfizer Inc and Germany’s BioNTech will develop an mRNA-based vaccine for the prevention of viral infection shingles, collaborating for the third time after the success of their COVID-19 vaccine based on the same technology.

Pfizer partnered with BioNTech in 2018 for an Influenza vaccine and again in 2020 for the COVID-19 shot that has been used across the world and has brought in billions in sales for the companies.

Shares of U.S. drugmaker Pfizer were up 1.5% at $55.35 in premarket trading.

The companies said on Wednesday they expect to begin clinical trials of the shingles vaccine, which will combine Pfizer’s antigen technology and BioNTech’s Messenger RNA platform technology, in the second half of 2022.

MRNA vaccines prompt the human body to make a protein that is part of the pathogen, triggering an immune response.

If successful, the vaccine will compete with GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK.L) two-dose vaccine Shingrix, which was approved by US FDA in 2017. The vaccine brought in about 2 billion pounds in revenue in 2020.

Shingles typically develops in older adults who had chickenpox, or the varicella-zoster virus, when younger. Its hallmark is a painful rash that clears up within a month in most cases, but could sometimes lead to nerve pain that can linger for longer.

Pfizer and BioNTech said they will share development costs and gross profits from future sales of the shingles vaccine.

Pfizer will pay BioNTech $225 million in upfront payment, which includes a cash payment of $75 million and an equity investment of $150 million, as well as milestone payments of up to $200 million.

BioNTech will pay Pfizer $25 million for its proprietary antigen technology.

Pfizer will have rights to commercialize the potential vaccine worldwide, excluding Germany, Turkey and certain developing countries where BioNTech will have those rights.