|Headquarters||200 Technology Square|
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Revenue||US$803 million (2020)|
|US$−763 million (2020)|
|US$−747 million (2020)|
|Total assets||US$7.336 billion (2020)|
|Total equity||US$2.561 billion (2020)|
|Owner||Noubar Afeyan (12.7%)|
Stéphane Bancel (7.9%)
Robert S. Langer (2.9%)
Stephen Hoge (1.3%)
Number of employees
|Footnotes / references|
Moderna, Inc (// mə-DUR-nə) is an American pharmaceutical and biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It focuses on vaccine technologies based on messenger RNA (mRNA). Moderna's vaccine platform inserts synthetic nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (modRNA) into human cells using a coating of lipid nanoparticles. This mRNA then reprograms the cells to prompt immune responses. Moderna develops mRNA therapeutic vaccines that are delivered in lipid nanoparticle, using mRNA with pseudouridine nucleosides. Candidates are designed to have improved folding and translation efficiency via insertional mutagenesis.
The company's only commercial product is the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The company has 24 vaccine candidates, including vaccine candidates for seasonal flu, HIV, the Nipah virus, and a second COVID-19 vaccine that will be easier to store and administer than existing vaccines. In 2020, 65% of the company's revenues were from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and 24% of the company's revenues were from other agencies of the Federal government of the United States.
In 2010, ModeRNA Therapeutics was formed to commercialize the research of stem cell biologist Derrick Rossi. Rossi had developed a method of modifying mRNA first via transfection into human cells, then dedifferentiating it into bone marrow stem cells which could then be further differentiated into desired target cell types. Rossi approached fellow Harvard University faculty member Timothy A. Springer, who solicited co-investment from Kenneth R. Chien, Bob Langer, and Venture Studio Flagship Ventures, run by Noubar Afeyan. Together they founded a company named from the combined terms "modified" and "RNA" that just happens to contain "modern".
In March 2013, Moderna and AstraZeneca signed a five-year exclusive option agreement to discover, develop, and commercialize mRNA for treatments in the therapeutic areas of cardiovascular, metabolic, and renal diseases, and selected targets for cancer. The agreement included a $240 million upfront payment to Moderna, a payment which was "one of the largest ever initial payments in a pharmaceutical industry licensing deal that does not involve a drug already being tested in clinical trials", As of May 2020[update], only one candidate has passed Phase I trials, a treatment for myocardial ischemia, labelled AZD8601.[a]
In September 2013, the company reported that it was able to improve heart function in mice and enhance their long-term survival with a "redirection of their [stem cell] differentiation toward cardiovascular cell types" in a significant step for regenerative medicine. In November 2013, the company raised $110 million of equity financing.
In January 2014, Alexion Pharmaceuticals paid Moderna $100 million for ten product options to develop rare disease treatments, including for Crigler-Najjar syndrome, using Moderna's mRNA therapeutics platform. Although CEO Bancel expected the platform to enter human trials in 2016, the program with Alexion was scrapped in January 2017 after animal trials showed that Moderna's treatment would never be safe enough for humans.
In 2018, the company rebranded as "Moderna Inc." and further increased its portfolio of vaccine development.
Through year-end 2019, Moderna had accumulated losses of $1.5 billion since inception, with a loss of $514 million in 2019, and had raised $3.2 billion in equity since 2010.
2020–2021: COVID-19 vaccine
The Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine, codenamed mRNA-1273, is a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna, the United States National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). It is used in people aged 18 years and older to provide protection against infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. It is designed to be administered as two 0.5 mL doses given by intramuscular injection at an interval of four weeks apart.
In March 2020, in a White House meeting between the Trump administration and pharmaceutical executives, Bancel told the president Moderna could have a COVID-19 vaccine ready in a few months. The next day, the FDA approved clinical trials for the Moderna vaccine candidate, with Moderna later receiving investment of $483 million from Operation Warp Speed. Moderna board member, Moncef Slaoui, was appointed head scientist for the Operation Warp Speed project.
As of November 2020, Moderna planned to sell the vaccine for $32-37 per dose.
Phase III clinical trials were completed in December 2020; the vaccine had not been licensed for prophylactic use against COVID-19, although the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines had been approved for marketing under emergency use authorizations from the FDA and regulatory agencies in other countries.
In November 2020, it was announced that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine candidate (codenamed mRNA-1273), had shown preliminary evidence of 94% efficacy in preventing COVID-19 in a Phase III trial, with only minor flu-like side effects. This led to its submission for emergency use authorization (EUA) as a COVID-19 vaccine in Europe, the United States, and Canada. On December 18, 2020, mRNA-1273 was issued an EUA in the United States. On December 23, 2020, it was authorized for use in Canada. On January 6, 2021, it was authorized for use in the European Union. On January 8, 2021, mRNA-1273 was authorized for use in the United Kingdom.
Moderna was selling itself as a "Personalized Cancer Vaccines" manufacturer and one journalist remarked on the "Army of Robots" in the new 200,000-square-foot manufacturing plant with "five fluorescently lit clinical clean rooms" they had recently commissioned that was necessary just for the pre-clinical research:
In the first room, large stainless steel machines turn a digital sequence of genetic building blocks called nucleotides into ring-shaped DNA plasmids. In the second, enzymes convert that DNA into strands of mRNA. In room three, the mRNA gets coated in lipid nanoparticles to help it enter cells. The last and most critical room is deep in the middle of the building, in a sealed-off aseptic block. To go there, employees have to don double layers of gowns and gloves, and move slowly so they don't stir up any microbes that might have slipped past air filters and sanitizing scrub-downs. Preventing contamination here is of utmost importance. It's where the mRNA gets deposited into the vials that will take them to their final destination. [The fifth room is] where the company plans to install a handful of refrigerator-sized, custom-designed robots for producing personalized cancer vaccines.— Megan Molteni for Wired Magazine
In 2018, the President of the company told a journalist of the planned personalised cancer vaccines that "It's not something that is like 'oh, this is the right color for you,' it's actually, 'no, we invented this color for you.'"
Another well-regarded senior scientist who works for Moderna, Melissa Moore, predicted in 2018 that her team "is about to publish a paper showing they can engineer an off-switch into mRNAs, so they only express proteins in the cells Moderna wants them to, like, say, cancer cells".
Conflict of interest of board member
In May 2020, Moderna board member Dr. Moncef Slaoui resigned from the company to become Chief Scientist for US's "Operation Warp Speed", a group designed to accelerate the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Slaoui continued to hold more than $10 million in stock options in the company in his new role while the federal government invested $483 million in the company to assist in COVID-19 vaccine trials. Senator Elizabeth Warren called the holding a conflict of interest and said Slaoui should have divested his options.
CEO Stéphane Bancel has been described as having a secretive approach to Moderna, and as being a tough operator. Despite never having worked with RNA before, Stat noted that Bancel "is listed as a co-inventor on more than 100 of Moderna's early patent applications, unusual for a CEO who is not a PhD scientist". After Noubar Afeyan and Robert Langer, Bancel is the largest individual shareholder in the company.
- The relative success of AZD8601 is attributed to the fact that Moderna has been able to inject mRNA direct into the heart muscle without needing a drug delivery system. However, only the heart and some skin areas are capable of absorbing "naked mRNA".
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- Official website
- Business data for Moderna, Inc.: