Moderna Axes Four Clinical Development Programs, Two AstraZeneca Had Dropped
Pictured: Moderna headquarters in Massachusetts/iStock, hapabapa
The decision to discontinue the four clinical programs was part of Moderna’s routine review of its pipeline, in which it evaluates whether there are better opportunities and areas of focus for its mRNA-based drug discovery, design and development platform, President Stephen Hoge said during the company’s annual R&D Day.
“We have a blessing and a curse in terms of how productive this platform is, and anytime we see an opportunity to focus our energy on programs that we think are the most important to move forward, we’ll do so,” Hoge said.
Moderna’s pipeline cull will affect two formerly AstraZeneca-partnered molecules: the VEGF-A program AZD8601 and the IL-12 program MEDI1191.
AZD8601 is an mRNA therapeutic encoding for VEGF-A. In November 2021, Moderna posted data from the AstraZeneca-led Phase II EPICCURE study, which found that injecting the candidate into heart tissue was safe and tolerable, while eliciting signals of efficacy such as improved left ventricular ejection fraction and patient-reported outcomes.
AstraZeneca announced it was dropping AZD8601 from its roster in August 2022.
A few months later, in November 2022, AstraZeneca also pulled its support from the IL-12 program MEDI1191, which it was studying as part of a combination regimen with the PD-L1 inhibitor durvalumab for the treatment of advanced solid tumors. MEDI1191 is a lipid nanoparticle-formulated candidate that induces the production of IL-12 and promotes anti-tumor activity.
In addition to these two candidates, Moderna announced during Wednesday’s R&D Day that it was likewise dropping mRNA-1653, the company’s vaccine candidate for pediatric human metapneumovirus and parainfluenza type 3 virus. The investigational shot was being assessed in a Phase Ib study.
Moderna is also abandoning its first-generation COVID-19 and flu combination vaccine mRNA-1073. During its 2022 R&D Day, the company announced that it was assessing the candidate in a Phase I/II trial. Moderna is also advancing a triple-target vaccine, mRNA-1230, which is likewise in a Phase I/II study for COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus.
The news about culling four programs from its pipeline came the same day as the Massachusetts-based biopharma celebrated a Phase III victory for its mRNA-based flu vaccine candidate. Also revealed during Wednesday’s R&D Day, the investigational shot—dubbed mRNA-1010—met all its co-primary endpoints across all four influenza A and B strains, according to an interim analysis of the late-stage study.