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CSL paying $312m to license mRNA vax tech

CSL says it is paying $US200 million ($A312m) up-front to license next-generation mRNA vaccine technology from a small US company.

CSL said on Wednesday its CSL Seqirus subsidiary, the second-biggest flu vaccine manufacturer globally, has licensed the technology from NASDAQ-listed Arcturus Therapeutics.

The $US485m NASDAQ-listed company would be eligible to receive more than $US4.3 billion ($A6.7 billion) in milestone payments, plus double-digit royalties under the terms of the deal.

Arcturus has been working on a COVID-19 vaccine, which a large-scale clinical trial in April found was safe and effective, that might be used as a booster shot, as well as mRNA-based vaccines for flu and other respiratory diseases.

Arcturus' mRNA vaccines use "self-amplifying" technology, meaning the vaccines are programmed to make more copies of themselves within the body, so a much smaller dose is needed than with the mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna.

CSL is working on its own flu vaccine using self-amplifying mRNA but has only progressed as far as mice studies, which have been promising.

"This collaboration is an exciting opportunity to complement CSL's own next generation mRNA program with a partner who developed a platform to deliver late stage clinical supplies at scale," said CSL chief operating officer Paul McKenzie.

"These combined capabilities will accelerate our journey in mRNA."

CSL chief medical officer Dr Bill Mezzanotte called the deal "another example of CSL's relentless pursuit of disruptive innovation when public health and patients can benefit."

San Diego-based Arcturus Therapeutics was founded in 2013 and has around 200 employees.