27-May-2020 - Themis Bioscience GmbH

Vienna vaccine start-up to be acquired by MSD

Acquisition is expected to accelerate the development of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate

Themis and MSD (trademark of Merck & Co., Inc.) announced that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement under which MSD, through a subsidiary, will acquire privately-held Themis. 

Themis has a broad pipeline of vaccine candidates and immune-modulatory therapies developed using its measles virus vector platform based on a vector originally developed by scientists at the Institut Pasteur and licensed exclusively to Themis for select viral indications. In March, Themis joined a consortium together with the Institut Pasteur and The Center for Vaccine Research at the University of Pittsburgh, supported by funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), to develop a vaccine candidate targeting SARS-CoV-2 for the prevention of COVID-19.

“Building on the pioneering work of the Institut Pasteur, the Themis team has established specialized expertise that complements MSD’s own capabilities in the discovery, development, manufacturing and global distribution of vaccines,” said Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter, president,

Research & Development, MSD. “We are eager to combine our strengths both to develop an effective COVID-19 vaccine in the near term and to build a pandemic preparedness capability directed toward emerging agents that pose a future epidemic threat.”

The planned acquisition builds upon an ongoing collaboration between the two companies to develop vaccine candidates using the measles virus vector platform, and is expected to accelerate the development of Themis’ COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The vaccine candidate is in pre-clinical development, and clinical studies are planned to start later in 2020.

Under terms of the agreement, MSD, through a subsidiary, will acquire all outstanding shares of Themis in exchange for an undisclosed cash payment. Upon completion of the deal Themis will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of MSD.

“This acquisition by MSD, a global leader in vaccine development, reflects Themis’ success in applying our versatile immune-modulation platform that builds on the original discoveries from the Institut Pasteur,” said Dr. Erich Tauber, chief executive officer, Themis. “We are excited for the next phase of our relationship with MSD and in the near term look forward to focusing resources toward the development and global scale-up of our candidate SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.”

“I am delighted that the vaccine technology initially developed at the Institut Pasteur, and enhanced in partnership with Themis, will now be leveraged by MSD to develop candidate vaccines designed to prevent and control emerging infectious diseases, notably COVID-19. This is an exciting and impactful development for global public health,” commented Prof. Stewart Cole, president of Institut Pasteur. 

Investments by CEPI were important to advancing the Themis technology platform and associated programs. MSD looks forward to continued collaboration with CEPI and other international organizations as we work together toward global access to potential SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Closing of the transaction is subject to the expiration or earlier termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act, merger control clearance in Austria, and other customary conditions. In connection with the transaction, Institut Pasteur, CEPI and MSD have entered into a memorandum of understanding that reflects the parties’ commitments to address the COVID-19 pandemic by developing, manufacturing and distributing the vaccine on a global basis and with pricing that makes the vaccine both available around the world and accessible to those who need it, including low-income, middle-income and highincome countries based on the medical need when the vaccine may become available.  

MSD is a global leader in infectious diseases and vaccines, with a long history of researching, developing, manufacturing and distributing vaccines for children, adolescents and adults. MSD is committed to ensuring that any vaccines we develop for SARS-CoV-2 will be accessible and affordable globally, and plans to manufacture the vaccine at sites in the U.S. and Europe.

Measles Vector Platform

The measles vector platform is being evaluated across a wide range of infectious disease and immunology indications. It uses a modified measles vaccine virus as a vector and can be engineered to express a wide range of antigens. The measles vector is designed to provide a vehicle to deliver antigens to the immune system capable of triggering a protective memory response. It has been incorporated into vaccine development programs against infectious diseases including SARS, Chikungunya, MERS, and Lassa fever. Originally developed at the Institut Pasteur, the technology platform was first licensed to Themis in 2010.

Facts, background information, dossiers
More about Themis Bioscience
  • News

    Zika & Chikungunya Vaccine Development Boosted By Cash Injection

    Themis Bioscience successfully closed a Series B financing round of 10 Mio Euro. The fresh capital will be used to complete a phase 2 clinical trial of its lead product, a vaccine candidate against Chikungunya fever. Further products that will benefit include the company's Zika virus vaccin ... more

    Themis Bioscience’s Raises up to EUR 10 Million in Series B

    Themis Bioscience announced the first closing of EUR 7 Million in a Series B financing of up to EUR 10 Million, led by new investor Wellington Partners. Existing investors Ventech and Omnes Capital (formerly Crédit Agricole Private Equity) also participated in the round. Dr Regina Hodits, G ... more

    A major step forward in fight against Chikungunya fever

    The induction of neutralizing antibodies by a prophylactic Chikungunya vaccine candidate has now been confirmed by the final results of a phase 1 clinical trial, as well as its tolerability and safety. Detailed information of the trial has been presented at two international conferences. Th ... more

  • Companies

    Themis Bioscience GmbH

    Themis has a developed a sophisticated vaccine platform and pipeline based on advanced understanding of immune system mechanisms. Initially focused on preventing infectious diseases, the Company has demonstrated the speed and potential of the platform through its world-leading Phase 2 clini ... more

More about Merck Sharp & Dohme
  • News

    Merck and Pfizer Collaborate with Corning to Modernize Pharmaceutical Glass Packaging

    Merck & Co., Pfizer and Corning Incorporated announced collaborations that have enabled the modernization of pharmaceutical packaging with the introduction of Corning Valor™ Glass. This revolutionary pharmaceutical glass packaging solution enhances the storage and delivery of today’s drug f ... more

    Merck prices EUR 1.0 billion debt offering

    Merck & Co., Inc., known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, priced today a EUR 1.0 billion public offering of two series of Euro-denominated senior unsecured notes (collectively, the “New Notes”). Based on Oct. 21, 2016, closing exchange rates the EUR 1.0 billion equates to approx ... more

    Major pharma companies sign up to groundbreaking Parkinson's consortium

    Seven of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies have signed up to a groundbreaking consortium aimed at accelerating the development of safe and effective therapies for Parkinson's. The Critical Path for Parkinson's consortium will bring together leading academics; industry members Abb ... more

  • Companies

    Merck Sharp & Dohme Limited

    We are inspired by the difference we can make in the lives of people around the world through the innovative medicines, vaccines, and consumer health and animal products we discover and produce. Our products cover a broad range of areas, including heart and respiratory health, infectious di ... more