Biopharma | Government | Foundations | Research Institutes

mRNA therapeutics for cardiometabolic diseases and cancer

“Together with Moderna, we are pushing the boundaries of science in the pioneering field of messenger RNA therapeutics. Where current drug discovery technologies can target only a fraction of the disease-relevant proteins in the human genome, we have the potential to create revolutionary new medicines to treat patients with serious cardiometabolic diseases and cancer.”
— Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer of AstraZeneca

We have three alliances with AstraZeneca. Our first strategic alliance, established in 2013 to discover, develop, and commercialize potential mRNA medicines was for the treatment of cardiovascular and cardiometabolic diseases, as well as selected targets for cancer.

The relationship with AstraZeneca was expanded in 2016 when we entered into a new immuno-oncology-focused strategic alliance for the joint development of a potential mRNA medicine to make IL12 protein, which AstraZeneca has elected to advance into Phase 1 clinical development. The relationship was further expanded in 2017 with another strategic alliance focused on the joint development of a potential mRNA medicine to make the relaxin protein.

In June, 2018 we amended the 2013 alliance to provide AstraZeneca with certain exclusive rights and licenses to research, develop and commercialize potential therapeutic mRNA medicines directed at certain cardiovascular targets and a cancer target.

mRNA-based vaccines and passive immunity treatments against viral diseases

"By combining Merck’s strength in vaccine and antiviral therapeutic development with Moderna’s mRNA Therapeutics technology, we are well positioned to develop differentiated candidates with the potential to provide meaningful benefit to patients. We look forward to working with the scientific and technical teams at Moderna."
— Roger M. Perlmutter, M.D., Ph.D., President of Merck Research Laboratories


We have established a multi-faceted relationship with Merck that includes distinct strategic alliances directed to the research, development, and commercialization of mRNA medicines for the prevention and treatment of viral infections and cancer.

In January 2015, we established a strategic alliance with Merck, to research, develop, and commercialize potential mRNA medicines for the prevention and treatment of infections by four viruses including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

In January 2016, we expanded our infectious disease strategic alliance with Merck to include varicella zoster virus (VZV).

"While the area of personalized cancer vaccine research has faced challenges in the past, there have been many recent advances, and we believe that working with Moderna to combine an immuno-oncology approach, using KEYTRUDA, with mRNA-based personalized cancer vaccines may have the potential to transform the treatment of cancer.”
— Roger M. Perlmutter, M.D., Ph.D., President of Merck Research Laboratories

In June 2016, we entered into a personalized mRNA cancer vaccines (PCV) collaboration with Merck, to develop and commercialize PCVs for individual patients using our mRNA vaccine and formulation technology. In November 2017, we announced with Merck a key milestone for the first-in-human dosing of a PCV (mRNA-4157) as a part of the alliance.

In April 2018, we expanded our cancer vaccine strategic alliance to include the development and commercialization of our KRAS vaccine development candidate, mRNA-5671, and potentially other shared neoantigen mRNA cancer vaccines.

mRNA medicines for the treatment of cystic fibrosis

“The collaboration with Moderna underscores our commitment to invest in and pioneer multiple innovative approaches to expand and enhance the future treatment of CF. Moderna’s messenger RNA Therapeutics represent a promising new approach that could provide functional CFTR proteins to the lungs of people with CF, which would complement our existing approach of using CFTR modulators to treat CF.”
— David Altshuler, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Global Research and Chief Scientific Officer

In July 2016, we entered into a strategic alliance with Vertex aimed at the discovery and development of mRNA medicines for the treatment of cystic fibrosis (CF). The three-year alliance will focus on the use of mRNA therapies to treat the underlying cause of CF by enabling cells in the lungs to produce functional copies of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein, which is known to be defective in people with CF. Through the alliance, the companies will explore the potential utilization of pulmonary mRNA delivery.