Moderna has entered into a significant research partnership with Immatics, focusing on cancer vaccines and cell therapies. This collaboration has the potential to generate over $1.7 billion in milestone payments.
This agreement reflects Moderna’s commitment to diversify its research beyond COVID-19, given the diminishing demand for COVID-19 vaccines as the pandemic subsides. Moderna is now directing its resources towards developing cancer vaccines, a complex scientific endeavor that has challenged researchers for many years.
Modern already has a partnership with Merck for a cancer vaccine project, which showed promising results in a mid-stage clinical trial, indicating a 44% reduction in the risk of recurrence or mortality among melanoma patients. Additionally, Moderna has a robust pipeline of vaccines in development, targeting influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), among others.
The collaboration with Immatics involves an initial payment of $120 million, underlining Moderna’s financial commitment to this effort. The core of this collaboration revolves around using messenger RNA (mRNA) technology to facilitate the in vivo expression of T-cell engaging receptor (TCER) molecules. This approach aims to accelerate the development of cancer vaccines, bispecific therapies, and cell-based treatments.
Both Moderna and Immatics will contribute their ongoing programs to this partnership. Immatics will integrate its IMA203 PRAME TCR-T into Moderna’s investigational PRAME mRNA cancer vaccine development. Importantly, both companies will retain ownership of their respective programs, ensuring a collaborative yet autonomous approach to research and development.
Immatics stands to receive not only the initial upfront payment but also research funding and the possibility of back-end payments of up to $1.7 billion, contingent on the successful progress of these programs through development, regulatory approval, and commercialization. Additionally, royalties will be based on the sales of TCER products and specific vaccines stemming from the collaboration. There’s also the potential for Immatics to participate in a global profit-sharing arrangement for the most advanced candidate in their joint portfolio.
Responsibilities within this partnership are clearly defined, with Moderna leading clinical development and overseeing commercialization efforts, leveraging its mRNA-based therapeutics expertise. Immatics will be responsible for preclinical studies and may manage a phase 1 clinical trial involving the IMA203 TCR-T and PRAME mRNA vaccine combination.
This partnership represents a significant step for Moderna as it expands its focus on cancer therapeutics beyond its COVID-19 vaccine success. Notably, the partnership with Merck for mRNA-4157, a cancer vaccine showing promise in melanoma patients, is expanding into lung cancer.
Additionally, Moderna is exploring other innovative modalities, leveraging its financial resources gained from COVID-19 vaccine sales. Collaborations with companies like Life Edit Therapeutics in gene therapies and CARsgen Therapeutics in Claudin18.2-targeted therapies highlight Moderna’s commitment to pioneering new treatments for various diseases.