$1.9B in: Mod­er­na blue­prints $100M fa­cil­i­ty, plans to dou­ble the pipeline af­ter a $474M megaround

Stephane Ban­cel, Mod­er­na CEO

Mod­er­na has wrapped its lat­est megaround with $474 mil­lion to in­vest in a new man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty and its fast-grow­ing staff as it looks to launch new stud­ies for im­muno-on­col­o­gy and dou­ble the num­ber of ther­a­pies in the pipeline as ear­ly as next sum­mer.

Mod­er­na tipped its hand on this fundrais­ing in a Form D a few days ago. But in an in­ter­view with End­points News, Mod­er­na CEO Stephane Ban­cel spelled out where the next big in­vest­ments will be made. At the top of that to-do list is build­ing a $100 mil­lion man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty, which the Cam­bridge, MA-based biotech has been scout­ing a lo­ca­tion for.

“We are re­al­ly try­ing to in­vest in the plat­form,” says Ban­cel, “to be­come the best mR­NA com­pa­ny in the world…. We are play­ing a very long game.”

Mod­er­na dis­card­ed the clas­sic biotech mold the day it start­ed in busi­ness. Rather than stake their claim to new tech­nol­o­gy by prov­ing its worth in one or two drugs, the biotech im­me­di­ate­ly set out to raise the big bucks nec­es­sary to start work on a ma­jor pipeline that could even­tu­al­ly prove its worth for a whole range of dis­eases. Pro­grams rang­ing from vac­cines to rare dis­eases, on­col­o­gy, car­dio and more are in­clud­ed. This way, says Ban­cel, a sin­gle set­back shouldn’t cloud the com­pa­ny’s fu­ture.

Clin­i­cal pro­grams were a long time com­ing as Mod­er­na built up a range of big pre­clin­i­cal part­ner­ships. But Ban­cel says the num­ber of drugs in de­vel­op­ment has swelled to 11, with the first set of da­ta slat­ed to be re­leased in 2017. Mod­er­na al­so plans to add about 10 drugs to the clin­ic by next sum­mer, says the CEO, as the 450 staffers al­ready on board are joined by 100 more be­ing re­cruit­ed now for open po­si­tions. And the new man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty need­ed to sup­port its de­vel­op­ment work will be ready by the end of 2017.

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.

To get here, Mod­er­na has now raised $1.9 bil­lion from in­vestors like As­traZeneca, with an­oth­er $230 mil­lion on the ta­ble from grants. In ad­di­tion to the fi­nanc­ing an­nounce­ment this morn­ing, Mod­er­na is al­so un­veil­ing a pact to de­vel­op a new Zi­ka vac­cine, with BAR­DA putting up $8 mil­lion to get the pro­gram start­ed while of­fer­ing an op­tion on $117 mil­lion more to get through a suc­cess­ful de­vel­op­ment pro­gram.

Al­to­geth­er, this new mon­ey comes close to the record $500 mil­lion that the com­pa­ny raised last year. Even­tu­al­ly, Ban­cel says the com­pa­ny should be ready for an IPO.

“We will take the com­pa­ny pub­lic,” he tells me. “There is no doubt about it.”

First, though, Mod­er­na will have to gath­er pos­i­tive mid-stage da­ta from sev­er­al lead­ing pro­grams, leav­ing no doubt that it can achieve its dreams.

Biotech in­vestors and CEOs see two paths to growth, but are they equal­ly vi­able?

The dynamic in the biotech market has been highly volatile in the last few years, from the high peaks immediately after the COVID vaccine in 2021, to the lowest downturns of the last 20 years in 2022. This uncertainty makes calling the exact timing of the market’s turn something of a fool’s errand, according to Dr. Chen Yu, Founder and Managing Partner of TCG Crossover (TCG X). He speaks with RBC’s Noël Brown, Head of US Biotechnology Investment Banking, about the market’s road ahead and two possible paths for growth.

Vlad Coric, Biohaven CEO

Vlad Coric charts course for 'New Bio­haven' with neu­ro­science push and Big Phar­ma vets on board

What’s Biohaven without its CGRP portfolio? That’s what CEO Vlad Coric is tasked with deciding as he maps out the “New Biohaven” post-Pfizer takeover.

Pfizer officially scooped up Biohaven’s CGRP assets on Monday, including blockbuster migraine drug Nurtec and the investigational zavegepant, for $11.6 billion. As a result, Coric spun the broader pipeline into an independent company on Tuesday — with the same R&D team behind Nurtec but about 1,000 fewer staffers and a renewed focus on neuroscience and rare disease.

In AstraZeneca's latest campaign, wild eosinophils called Phils personify the acting up often seen in uncontrolled asthma

As­traZeneca de­buts an­noy­ing pur­ple ‘Phil’ crea­tures, per­son­i­fied asth­ma eosinophils ‘be­hav­ing bad­ly’

There are some odd-looking purple creatures lurking around the halls of AstraZenca lately. The “Phil” character cutouts are purple, personified eosinophils with big buggy eyes and wide mouths, and they’re a part of AZ’s newest awareness effort to help people understand eosinophilic asthma.

The “Asthma Behaving Badly” characters aren’t only on the walls at AZ to show the new campaign to employees, however. The “Phils” are also showing up online on the campaign website, and in digital and social ads and posts on Facebook and Instagram.

Casey McPherson shows his daughters Rose (left) and Weston around Everlum Bio, a lab that he co-founded to spark a treatment for Rose and others with ultra-rare conditions. (Ilana Panich-Linsman)

Fa­ther starts lab af­ter in­tel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty is­sues stymie rare dis­ease drug de­vel­op­ment

Under bright lab lights, Casey McPherson holds his 6-year-old daughter, Rose. His free hand directs Rose’s gaze toward a computer screen with potential clues in treating her one-of-a kind genetic condition.

Gray specks on the screen show her cells that scientists reprogrammed with the goal of zeroing in on a custom medicine. McPherson co-founded the lab, Everlum Bio, to spark a treatment for Rose — and others like her. A regarded singer-songwriter, McPherson never imagined going into drug development.

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Dave Marek, Myovant CEO

My­ovant board balks as ma­jor­i­ty own­er Sum­it­o­mo swoops in with a $2.5B deal to buy them out

Three years after Sumitomo scooped up Roivant’s 46% stake in the publicly traded Myovant $MYOV as part of a 5-company, $3 billion deal, they’re coming back for the whole thing.

But these other investors at Myovant want more than what the Japanese pharma company is currently offering to pay at this stage.

Sumitomo is bidding $22.75 a share for the outstanding stock, which now represents 48% of the company after Sumitomo bumped its ownership since the original deal with Roivant. Myovant, however, created a special committee on the board, and they’re shaking their heads over the offer.

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Ying Huang, Legend CEO

Lentivi­ral vec­tor ramp-up: J&J and Leg­end to in­vest $500M in New Jer­sey man­u­fac­tur­ing to sup­port Carvyk­ti

In response to a question on manufacturing scale at Legend Biotech’s R&D day yesterday, the company’s top exec said its partnership with Johnson & Johnson will be doubling its investment in its New Jersey manufacturing center and will be investing a total of $500 million.

With an eye on their BCMA-directed CAR-T therapy Carvykti (cilta-cel), approved in February as a fifth-line treatment for multiple myeloma, Legend CEO Ying Huang said that the ramp-up in production and the decision to manufacture its own lentiviral vectors — currently in shortage worldwide — means they won’t have to deal with that shortage.

Kite Phar­ma gets FDA to sign off on new Cal­i­for­nia-based vec­tor man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ty

Kite Pharma just got FDA approval to kick off operations at a new manufacturing campus.

The cancer-focused, CAR-T cell therapy player made the announcement Monday, saying that the federal regulatory agency gave the green light to Kite’s 100,000 square-foot, retroviral vector manufacturing facility in Oceanside, CA.

Kite’s global head of technical operations Chris McDonald tells Endpoints News that the facility has been in the works for about four years, after Kite teamed up with its parent company Gilead. Gilead acquired Kite Pharma for just shy of $12 billion in 2017.

Mar­ket­ingRx roundup: No­var­tis re­cruits NFL coach for Leqvio cam­paign; Pfiz­er pro­motes ‘Sci­ence’ merch on so­cial me­dia

Novartis is turning to a winning coach to talk about Leqvio and the struggles of high cholesterol — including his own. Bruce Arians, the retired NFL head coach of the Arizona Cardinals and Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is partnering with the pharma for its “Coaching Cholesterol” digital, social and public relations effort.

In the campaign, Arians talks about the potential for “great comebacks” in football and heart health. Once nicknamed a “quarterback whisperer,” he is now retired from fulltime coaching (although still a front-office consultant for Tampa Bay), and did a round of media interviews for Novartis, including one with People and Forbes.

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Amy West, Novo Nordisk head of US digital innovation and transformation (Illustration: Assistant Editor Kathy Wong for Endpoints News)

Q&A: No­vo Nordisk dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion chief Amy West dis­cuss­es phar­ma pain points and a health­care 'easy but­ton’

Amy West joined Novo Nordisk more than a decade ago to oversee marketing strategies and campaigns for its US diabetes portfolio. However, her career path shifted into digital, and she hasn’t looked back. West went from leading Novo’s first digital health strategy in the US to now heading up digital innovation and transformation.

She’s currently leading the charge at Novo Nordisk to not only go beyond the pill with digital marketing and health tech, but also test, pilot and develop groundbreaking new strategies needed in today’s consumerized healthcare world.

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