Moderna Loses AstraZeneca's Support in IL-12 Program; Must Defend Arbutus Suit

Moderna_Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Moderna is re-evaluating an IL-12 program in autoimmune disorders after AstraZeneca returned the rights, the mRNA leader announced Thursday in its third quarter filing

Details regarding the decision involving the mRNA therapy for IL-12-based autoimmune disorders were scant, with the company only saying it is "evaluating next steps for the program," according to the Q3 announcement. 

MEDI1191 was being developed by AstraZeneca's MedImmune division with anti-PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor durvalumab in advanced solid tumors. MEDI1191 is a lipid nanoparticle-formulated therapy designed to drive local IL-12 production and induce anti-tumor activity. 

On Aug. 1, AstraZeneca killed another program with Moderna. AZD8601, an mRNA therapy that encoded vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A),  was a Phase II drug candidate. The drug was injected directly into the myocardium of patients receiving elective coronary artery bypass surgery.

Moderna shares dropped 12% after the company lowered sales guidance for its COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna projected $18 billion to $19 billion in revenue from the vaccine, its sole commercial product, for 2022.  

This is compared to the $21 billion guidance the company initially provided. Moderna indicated that some vaccine deliveries had been delayed into 2023 because of supply issues.

Third-quarter revenue was $3.36 billion, down 32% from the same period in 2021. 

Moderna also focused on a Phase II readout expected by the end of the year for mRNA-4157/V940 in combination with Merck's anti-PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda. The study is evaluating the combination as adjuvant treatment for patients with high-risk melanoma. 

Moderna Must Defend Arbutus Suit 

In related news, a Delaware federal judge ruled Wednesday that Moderna - not the U.S. government - must face patent lawsuits brought by Arbutus Biopharma and Genevant Sciences GmbH.

A Moderna spokesperson told BioSpace  "the company looks ahead to proving not only that Arbutus and Genevant sued the wrong party in the wrong court, but also, at the appropriate time, that there was no patent infringement here." 

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