BioNTech is in the midst of conducting clinical trials for its mRNA-based mpox vaccine, propelled by a substantial $90 million grant from a notable pandemic prevention entity. Teaming up with the Center for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the German biotech firm secured this generous funding as part of a broader effort focused on pandemic readiness. Despite the market presence of Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos, BioNTech and CEPI stressed the significance of augmenting vaccine supply for potential future outbreaks and advancing the development of a new vaccine to combat a range of diseases caused by orthopoxviruses.
The inception of BioNTech’s vaccine, known as BNT166, can be traced back to the global spread of mpox (previously referred to as monkeypox) during the summer of 2022. In response to this critical situation, the company swiftly initiated the development of its vaccine and initiated a phase 1/2 trial in August.
This study aims to evaluate two closely related vaccine candidates, specifically BNT166a and BNT166c, in individuals who may or may not have had a prior experience with mpox infection.
Dr. Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI, highlighted the significance of their efforts in expanding the range of vaccines available to combat this potentially deadly disease caused by orthopoxviruses. He also stressed the chance to enhance our comprehension of the performance of mRNA technology against orthopoxviruses, a group of viruses that has historically afflicted humanity and remains a persistent threat.
The financial support for BioNTech’s endeavors is an integral component of CEPI’s ambitious 100 Days Mission, a strategic endeavor aimed at averting future pandemics through the expeditious development of vaccines.
The ultimate goal is to equip vaccine developers to rapidly conceptualize and fabricate a new vaccine within 100 days in the event of a severe infectious disease outbreak, akin to the emergence of COVID-19. Recently, CEPI announced an $80 million collaboration with researchers from the University of Cambridge, who played a pivotal role in the development of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, as part of this mission.
Concurrently, Moderna, a fellow developer of COVID-19 vaccines, is actively engrossed in the creation of an mRNA-based mpox vaccine. Despite reservations expressed by CEO Stéphane Bancel regarding the severity of mpox as a public health threat, a phase 1/2 trial was initiated in the United Kingdom in August, with participant recruitment commencing this month. Bancel acknowledged that, even in the event of positive trial data, expediting a phase 3 trial is not currently a high priority for Moderna.