By Casey Hall
SHANGHAI, Aug 8 (Reuters) - CanSino Biologics 6185.HK has agreed with AstraZeneca AZN.L to provide "contract development and manufacturing services" to support the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker's messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine programme, the Chinese company said on Tuesday.
In a filing to Shanghai's stock exchange, CanSino said it would manufacture and supply unspecified mRNA products to AstraZeneca. It did not disclose the value of the deal.
AstraZeneca said the deal would support investigational mRNA vaccines in its early pipeline.
"AstraZeneca is working on next-generation technologies to develop vaccines and monoclonal antibodies for infectious diseases where there is high unmet need," the company said, adding it would share more details as the candidates progress.
In China, which has relied on locally produced COVID-19 vaccines rather than allowing mRNA products from foreign manufacturers to be imported, mRNA vaccines are still not widely used.
The country approved in March its first homegrown mRNA vaccine against COVID, developed by CSPC Pharmaceutical Group 1093.HK.
CanSino has been working on its own mRNA COVID vaccine, and said in February it was in discussion with Chinese regulators around the protocol for a late-stage study for its COVID mRNA booster vaccine, CS-2034.
AstraZeneca is the largest foreign drugmaker in China and is doubling down on the world's No.2 pharmaceutical market amid slumping sales of its COVID vaccine.
At an event in China in May, its China president pledged to "build a local, transnational company that loves the Communist Party and loves the country".
The cooperation deal comes only a month after China's Commerce Minister Wang Wentao told foreign pharmaceuticals firms including AstraZeneca at a roundtable meeting that they can expect "more development opportunities".
It also comes after vaccine maker Moderna MRNA.O, which has said that it was keen to sell its mRNA vaccine to China, announced a deal last month to develop and manufacture mRNA medicines in the country.
(Reporting by Casey Hall; Additional reporting by Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt; Editing by Miyoung Kim, Mark Potter and Himani Sarkar)
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.