Moderna eyes $500M secondary offering on upbeat coronavirus vaccine update — almost ready for the clinic
Among the army of biotechs that threw themselves into the gold rush for 2019-nCoV vaccines or therapies, Moderna emerged as one of the most legitimate contenders: The NIH had signed it on as a partner, demonstrating confidence in its messenger RNA platform to produce a vaccine rapidly.
That has given the Cambridge, MA-based biotech a nice bump on its unicorn valuation. And CEO Stéphane Bancel is seizing it.
Moderna, whose $604 million IPO set a record for the industry, is offering more stocks on the public market in hopes of raising another $500 million to fund clinical development and drug discovery, as well as expand its mRNA tech platform.
Its SEC filing made no mention of the novel coronavirus outbreak emerging out of Wuhan, China — or any other specific programs for that matter — merely stating that its pipeline spans infectious diseases, immuno-oncology, rare diseases, autoimmune diseases and cardiovascular diseases.
At the latest count, its 830-strong team is working on 24 development candidates across 23 programs, 17 of which have entered the clinic.
Shares $MRNA, though, fell 5.5% to $22.35 pre-market.
Moderna has risen nearly 20% to $23.65 since the market opened on Friday, buoyed by an update from the NIH saying that tests of its coronavirus vaccine in mice are ongoing with “no glitches so far” — and that it should be ready for humans within 2.5 months.
In a separate statement out Monday afternoon, Moderna reported that the first clinical batch of its 2019-nCoV vaccine — dubbed mRNA1273 — was completed on February 7, including fills and finishing of vials.
“This mRNA vaccine was designed and manufactured in 25 days and is undergoing analytical testing prior to release to the NIH for use in their planned Phase 1 clinical trial in the U.S,” the company wrote.
The vaccine encodes for the viral Spike protein, which is considered a crucial complex for membrane fusion and host cell infection.
Adding to the good news, Moderna also disclosed that its Phase II trial for a CMV vaccine is enrolling more quickly than expected and interim data can now be expected in the third quarter.
It also shed more light on two new development candidates against Epstein-Barr virus (mRNA-1189) and respiratory syncytial virus (mRNA-1345) in young children, respectively. The EBV candidate contains 5 mRNAs that encode viral proteins known as gp350, gB, gp42, gH and gL, while the RSV vaccine will be tested in combination with another one against hMPV and PIV3 to launch a full fronted attack against a notorious target.