AstraZeneca, Moderna Therapeutics Sign mRNA Drug Pact
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AstraZeneca, along with its global biologics research and development arm, MedImmune, and Moderna Therapeutics, have formed a new collaboration to discover, co-develop and co-commercialize messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutic candidates for the treatment of a range of cancers. The collaboration is in addition to the agreement announced by the companies in 2013 to develop mRNA Therapeutics for the treatment of cardiovascular, metabolic, and renal diseases as well as selected targets in oncology.

The collaboration will combine MedImmune's protein engineering and cancer biology expertise with Moderna's mRNA platform. mRNA-based therapies are an innovative treatment approach that enables the body to produce therapeutic protein in vivo, opening up new treatment options for a wide range of diseases that cannot be addressed today using existing technologies.

Under the terms of the new agreement, AstraZeneca and Moderna will collaborate on two specific immuno-oncology programs, based on promising pre-clinical data, including pharmacology in tumor models. Moderna will fund and be responsible for discovery and preclinical development of product candidates, with the aim of delivering one investigational new drug (IND) application-ready molecule for each of the two programs. Moderna's efforts will be led by its oncology-focused venture, Onkaido. AstraZeneca will be responsible for early clinical development, led by MedImmune, and Moderna and AstraZeneca will share the costs of late-stage clinical development. The two companies will co-commercialize resulting products in the US under a 50:50 profit sharing arrangement. AstraZeneca will lead ex-US commercialisation efforts, with Moderna receiving tiered royalties up to substantial double digits on ex-US sales.

Under the companies' original strategic agreement, AstraZeneca holds exclusive access to select any target of its choice in cardiometabolic diseases, as well as select targets in oncology, over a period of up to five years for subsequent development in mRNA. Several projects are progressing towards clinical development under the arrangement, and a first-in-human study is expected to commence in late 2016.

Source: AstraZeneca

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