Deals, R&D

Struggling AstraZeneca ups the ante on mRNA pipeline work

AstraZeneca is doubling down, again, on its early-stage mRNA work.

The pharma giant boosted its investment in Moderna last year, investing an additional $140 million in the biotech and upping its stake in the company to 9%. This morning it’s adding $29 million to partner with the German startup Ethris, focusing on respiratory drugs with their platform tech.

Ethris’ team will use its tech to deliver genetic coding to cells in search of creating new drugs that can be effective in asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis — a big focus for AstraZeneca.

Bahia Jallal

The pharma giant has made some serious progress in oncology over the 5 years that CEO Pascal Soriot has been working on a turnaround for the global company. But even in cancer it’s had its ups and downs, highlighted by a recent failure for its Phase III combination of durvalumab and tremelimumab, while outside of oncology the company has been plagued by setbacks.

Based in Martinsried just outside Munich, Ethris was founded by CEO Carsten Rudolph and CSO Christian Plank in 2009.

Bahija Jallal, EVP of AstraZeneca subsidiary MedImmune had this to say:

Rapid advances over the last decade have made mRNA a very promising tool for clinical application, and we are excited to collaborate with Ethris, whose advanced platform is leading in RNA delivery to the lung. This collaboration complements our respiratory science focused on early intervention and disease modification by adding novel ways to target disease mechanisms that cannot be addressed by other approaches currently in our pipeline.

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