Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Will Moderna Therapeutics' mRNA Approaches Create Whole New Classes Of Infection Fighting Pathways?

That is what EVP of R&D at Merck, Dr. Roger Perlmutter is betting. And he's plunking down $50 million in upfront R&D contracts, and a $50 million equity stake in Moderna, on that bet. This whole approach is one of those potentially game changing, big "out of the box" ideas, to be certain.

Dr. Perlmutter has followed closely-held Moderna since his days at Amgen, so I suspect he's making a pretty carefully thought through bet. Here's a bit, from Forbes -- do go read it all:

. . . .Moderna Therapeutics, the Cambridge-based company that has taken the biotech industry by storm with a radical idea for messenger RNA therapies, is announcing today it has secured a big vote of confidence from a company with a reputation for doing rigorous science. Merck has agreed to make a $50 million upfront cash payment to Moderna for the rights to use its mRNA technology to develop as many as five vaccines and treatments against infectious diseases over the next three years. Merck is also making a $50 million equity investment in closely held Moderna. That new shot of $100 million means Moderna has raised a stunning $500 million in private investment this month alone, and it has scooped up a grand total of more than $1 billion from investors and partners in less than five years.

All that money has arrived before Moderna has put its first drug candidate to the ultimate test in clinical trials. It’s an unprecedented amount of money for a new drug technology at such an early stage of development. . . .

We will keep a weather eye on the horizon -- for this bet. . . and now, carry on. Je Suis. . . Charlie.

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