MDX-2201 is ModeX Therapeutics’ preclinical nanoparticle vaccine candidate for Epstein-Barr virus, which is a member of the herpes virus family


ModeX Therapeutics is developing MDX-2201 as a vaccine candidate for Epstein-Barr virus. (Credit: Ronalds from Pixabay)

ModeX Therapeutics has signed an exclusive worldwide license and collaboration deal worth up to $922.5m for the development of MDX-2201 with Merck.

MDX-2201 is ModeX Therapeutics’ preclinical nanoparticle vaccine candidate for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which is a member of the herpes virus family.

It is based on ModeX Therapeutics’ ferritin nanoparticle vaccine platform, which can express up to 24 copies of a recombinant antigen on its surface for improving the presentation of major components of the virus and trigger durable protective immunity.

MDX-2201 offers antigens from four viral proteins that are involved in the entry of the virus into host cells. These include a recombinant antigen designed from the gH, gL, and gp42 proteins, along with an antigen extracted from gp350.

ModeX Therapeutics president and CEO Gary Nabel and OPKO Health chief innovation officer Gary Nabel said: “We are delighted to enter this collaboration with Merck to develop a vaccine against EBV, a virus that takes a profound toll on human health worldwide. Targeting four proteins used by EBV to infect cells, this vaccine candidate embodies the novel multitargeting approach developed by ModeX scientists.”

ModeX Therapeutics and Merck will jointly move MDX-2201 to an investigational new drug (IND) application filing stage. After this, Merck will take over the clinical and regulatory activities along with the commercialisation of the product.

A joint steering committee made up of representatives from the two companies will guide the pre-IND filing activity.

ModeX Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company owned by Massachusetts-based OPKO Health.

As per the terms of the deal, OPKO Health will be paid $50m upfront by Merck. It is also entitled to milestone payments of up to $872.5m as well as royalties on global sales, that are dependent on progress in MDX-2201’s development and commercialisation.

Merck Research Laboratories infectious diseases and vaccine discovery vice president Tarit Mukhopadhyay said: “At Merck we have a proud legacy of developing vaccines including several that have the potential to help protect against certain types of cancer.

“We look forward to working with the ModeX Therapeutics team to apply our experience and expertise to evaluate the potential of MDX-2201 to help protect against EBV infection and other, potentially related, conditions.”