Mysterious Moderna Hints at Its IPO Timeline


Stephane Bancel, the chief executive officer of privately-held and highly-secretive Moderna Therapeutics, may have given a hint as to when the company may go public.

In an interview with EPVantage, Bancel said the company was not likely to float its initial public offering until the company has solid data on its lead mRNA treatment, mRNA-3704, which is set to enter the clinic next year. Moderna’s mRNA-3704 is the company’s first therapeutic for the severe, life-threatening rare liver disease, methylmalonic academia (MMA). There are currently no approved therapies for MMA.

“When we have rare disease data in humans is when we go out,” Bancel told EPVantage.

That means that an IPO for Moderna, which has a valuation of about $5 billion, will not likely be complete for several years.

In September, Moderna released details about some of its clinical programs, as well as its preclinical candidates. The company has often been criticized for its lack of data, a criticism that remains despite the September update.

In its update, Moderna pointed to the recently completed Phase I trial of mRNA AZD-8601, the first-ever mRNA therapeutic to be evaluated in the clinic. Moderna has a developmental partnership for mRNA AZD-8601 with AstraZeneca, which is one of the largest shareholders in the Massachusetts-based company. The mRNA treatment, a first of its kind, is in development to treat vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) in cardiovascular diseases. AstraZeneca is looking to initiate a Phase II for the drug.

In his interview with EPVantage, Bancel said AstraZeneca is funding both the Phase I and Phase II and further development will be a shared cost. That’s the type of deal that Moderna prefers, he said.

“We prefer these kinds of deals. We’re not looking for short-term cash, seeing as we still have a billion on the balance sheet – we’re shooting for long-term value,” Bancel said in his interview.

On Thursday, Moderna announced a new collaboration with AstraZeneca. The two companies will advance the new Relaxin development candidate, AZD7970, toward the clinic as an investigational treatment for heart failure. AZD7970 is being developed to instruct cells in the body to produce and express Relaxin, a secreted protein with systemic effect.

In addition to the deal with AstraZeneca, Moderna started a Phase I trial of mRNA-2416, an intratumoral (iTu) immuno-oncology (IO) drug that has the potential to improve T-cell attack against tumors.

Moderna has 16 mRNA therapeutics and vaccines in its pipeline. They vary across infectious diseases, cancer immuno-oncology, cardiovascular diseases and rare liver diseases. Clinical trials are underway for seven of these company’s developmental candidates, with the remaining 10 advancing toward the clinic.

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