With 11 Drugs in the Pipeline Already, Cash-Rich Moderna Eyes Another $600 Million

With 11 Drugs in the Pipeline Already, Cash-Rich Moderna Eyes Another $600 Million August 29, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – With an aim to raise $600 million in financing, messenger RNA specialists Moderna Therapeutics has already raised $451 million, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Since it launched five years ago, privately-held Moderna, a Flagship Ventures company, has been flush with cash to support its R&D efforts and other business operations, having a war chest of about $1 billion. The new financing round was first reported by The Boston Globe. Although Moderna said it was not disclosing much information regarding the funding round, some of the $451 million it has raised may have come from its latest deal with London-based AstraZeneca . Earlier this month the pharma giant announced it invested another $140 million in Moderna and now maintains a 9 percent stake in the company.

Moderna has 11 drugs in its pipeline, the Globe reported, including one developed with AstraZeneca that recently filed an application to begin a Phase I trial in Europe. The two companies are developing AZD8601, an investigational mRNA-based therapy for the treatment of cardiometabolic disease.

Since its launch, Moderna has been successful in forging partnerships with multiple companies. In addition to its deals with AstraZeneca, Moderna has also struck deals with Alexion , Vertex and Merck . In 2014, Moderna entered into a strategic partnership with Alexion to develop 10 rare disease product options. With AstraZeneca, the company is focused on developing cardiovascular and oncological treatments. In July, Moderna and Vertex inked a deal worth more than $315 million to develop treatments for cystic fibrosis using mRNA technology. The partnership will focus on using mRNA therapies to help cells in the lung manufacture functional copies of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein, which does not work properly in patients battling cystic fibrosis. Also in July, Moderna inked a $200 million deal with Merck to develop personalized cancer vaccines.

Moderna’s mRNA-based medicines is designed to directly utilize the body's natural processes to enable the in vivo production of therapeutic proteins. Moderna’s mRNA therapies give the parent company and its subsidiaries the flexibility to develop therapies for more than 7,000 diseases, the company said.

Earlier this month, Stephane Bancel, Moderna’s chief executive officer, said in the five years the company has been founded, “we have initiated two clinical trials, filed a CTA for a third program and moved another eight development candidates into IND-enabling studies.”

In addition to its mRNA programs, Moderna has created three ventures targeting various healthcare markets. The company launched Onkado Therapeutics to research and develop cancer treatments, Elpidera LLC which will focus on rare diseases and in January 2015, the company launched Valera to focus on infection diseases. When Elipdera spun out last year, Moderna said the work that company will be doing on rare disease therapies will not conflict with the programs it has going with Alexion.

Moderna also has a Global Health Partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop an mRNA-based antibody against HIV.

Last year, Moderna came to the attention of many in the public after raising $450 million in new funding—one of the largest funding rounds at the time.

With its skill in finding financial backers, it may not take Moderna long to find investors who will complete the $600 million goal. Moderna has more than 400 employees working at two sites in Kendall Square. The company hired about 120 of those employees since the beginning of the year.

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