Drug Development

UPDATED: Booming Moderna is raising $600M while ramping up manufacturing and clinical studies

Ever since Flagship launched Moderna back in 2012 with a $40 million round, the biotech has been a perpetual money-raising machine, garnering well over a billion dollars from an avid group of investors and partners looking to participate in its promised drug R&D revolution. And now in a filing with the SEC, the company has outlined its latest big effort to add $600 million to its coffers, with most of the cash already in hand.

Stephane Bancel, Moderna CEO

Stephane Bancel, Moderna CEO

According to the filing, Moderna has raised $451,369,079, with $148,630,019 to go. The Form D was filed last week. The money marks a new record for Moderna, which raised a $500 million round (including a second close) in early 2015. And AstraZeneca’s Pascal Soriot helped get that all started with a whopping $240 million upfront in its 2013 deal, which was tied to $180 million in milestones.

The company declined comment Monday morning.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel has been building this messenger RNA company with a radically different approach to the norm in biotech. Instead of grabbing one or two new drugs and setting out to gather proof-of-concept data to help establish its scientific credibility, the company has harvested a huge windfall of cash and built a large organization before even entering the clinic. And it did that without turning to an IPO.

They don’t get much more revolutionary than Moderna, a private company which believes its mRNA platform tech can deliver the necessary package to spur cells to produce therapeutics, essentially turning bodies into drug factories.

Bancel told me earlier in the month that Moderna had raised $1.5 billion, and presumably that includes money cited in this regulatory filing. AstraZeneca added $140 million back at the end of July, upping its stake in the company to 9%  after the partners filed a European application to start a Phase I study of AZD8601, an investigational mRNA-based therapy that encodes for vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A). AstraZeneca originally signed on as a partner back in 2013, when new CEO Pascal Soriot used it to demonstrate the pharma giant’s zeal for big, risky and potentially revolutionary science projects.

The deal with AstraZeneca covers new drugs for cardiovascular, metabolic and renal diseases as well as cancer.

Moderna only recently pushed its first drugs into clinical development, and it’s been scouting the Boston area for a new manufacturing site to produce the hundreds of drugs it believes it can make with its mRNA platform.

Bancel enjoys nothing better than doing things in a big way. So it was no surprise that his presentation at JP Morgan in January attracted a standing-room-only crowd of onlookers. The Moderna CEO spelled out plans to get the first 6 new drugs in the clinic by the end of 2016. The first human study was arranged for the infectious disease drug mRNA 1440, which began an early stage study in 2015.

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