With $1.4 Billion in Cash, Booming Moderna Plans to Hire 100 and Drops $100 Million on New Manufacturing Facility

With $1.4 Billion in Cash, Booming Moderna Plans to Hire 100 and Drops $100 Million on New Manufacturing Facility September 7, 2016
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Cambridge, Massachusetts – Due to various collaboration deals and equity fundraising, Moderna Therapeutics has about $1.4 billion in cash. Those partnerships include deals with Merck & Co. , Vertex , AstraZeneca and Alexion Pharmaceuticals . The company recently talked to Endpoints News and shared some of its plans for the cash.

First up is dropping $100 million on a new manufacturing facility. “We are really trying to invest in the platform,” Stephane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive officer, told Endpoints, “to become the best company in the world…. We are playing a very long game.”

It also expects to hire an additional 100 people to add to its current 450 headcount.

Just this morning, the company announced it had raised another $474 million. This equity financing came from existing institutional investors as well as strategic partners, in addition to unnamed new institutional investors globally.

It has also received grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a division of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as well as from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

A new $8 million deal with BARDA is to develop a vaccine against the Zika virus. That program has the option of spiraling up to $117 million for development.

“Moderna is, yet again in its short five years, accelerating its expansion and entering a new growth phase,” Bancel said in a statement. “Over the last nine months, our team has started two clinical trials, dosed around 250 healthy volunteers, filed an additional two INDs, moved into personalized cancer vaccine development with Merck and into lung mRNA drug discovery with Vertex, raised a new large equity financing of $474 million and closed our first BARDA grant for up to $125 million to advance a Zika mRNA vaccine. We are pivoting toward a new chapter in our company’s history, and we feel privileged to deploy our substantial capital resources to advance our mission to deliver on the promise of mRNA therapeutics as an entire new class of medicines.”

The company has more than 90 discovery programs across its ecosystem of internal and external partners. Therapeutics areas include infectious diseases, rare diseases, oncology, immune-oncology and cardiovascular diseases.

Moderna’s focus is on developing a new class of drugs using messenger RNA (mRNA). It is based on the fact that modified mRNA can use the body’s own cells to create almost any protein, ranging from native proteins to antibodies, and potentially novel proteins that may be therapeutic. In short, it has the potential to turn the human body into its own drug factory.

The company’s new manufacturing facility is expected to open by the end of 2017. It currently has 11 drugs in development, and expects the first data to be released in 2017. Moderna also projects it will add another 10 drugs to the clinic by the summer of 2017.

Moderna also has plans to launch an initial public offering (IPO). “We will take the company public,” Bancel told Endpoints. “There is no doubt about it.”

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