DARPA Awards Moderna Therapeutics a Grant for up to $25 Million to Develop Messenger RNA Therapeutics™
Research to focus on antibody production for immune defense
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., October 2, 2013—Moderna Therapeutics, the company pioneering messenger RNA therapeutics™, a revolutionary new treatment modality to enable the in vivo production of therapeutic proteins, announced today that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded the company up to $25 million to research and develop its messenger RNA therapeutics™ platform as a rapid and reliable way to make antibody-producing drugs to protect against a wide range of known and unknown emerging infectious diseases and engineered biological threats.
Messenger RNA therapeutics™ can be designed to tap directly into the body’s natural processes to produce antibodies without exposing people to a weakened or inactivated virus or pathogen, as is the case with the vaccine approaches currently being tested. As a result, Moderna’s messenger RNA therapeutics™ platform has the potential to speed the development and manufacture of treatments that can produce a safer, more reliable and more robust immune response than existing technologies.
“We are honored to be chosen by DARPA for this important grant, which will greatly accelerate our efforts to develop antibody messenger RNA therapeutics™ to combat a wide range of infectious diseases,” said Stéphane Bancel, president and founding CEO of Moderna. “We were awarded this major grant after an intense and rigorous scientific review, and it is a testament to our team’s progress and to the profound implications of messenger RNA therapeutics™ that our work was funded. We look forward to further expanding the development of our platform into this critically important new therapeutic area.”
This $24.6 million grant could support research for up to 5 years to advance promising antibody- producing drug candidates into preclinical testing and human clinical trials. The company also received a $0.7 million “seedling” grant from DARPA in March to begin work on the project.
This grant is part of a DARPA program called ADEPT: PROTECT (Autonomous Diagnostics to Enable Prevention and Therapeutics: Prophylactic Options to Environmental and Contagious Threats). The goal is to develop platform technologies that can be deployed safely and rapidly to provide the U.S. population with near-immediate protection against emerging infectious diseases and engineered biological weapons, even in cases when the pathogen or infectious agent is unknown. For more information about DARPA, visit http://www.darpa.mil/about-us/about-darpa.
About Moderna Therapeutics
Moderna is pioneering messenger RNA Therapeutics™, an entirely new in vivo drug modality that produces human proteins or antibodies inside patient cells, which are in turn active intracellularly or secreted. This breakthrough platform addresses currently undruggable targets and offers a superior alternative to existing drug modalities for a wide range of disease conditions. Moderna has developed a broad intellectual property estate, including 144 patent applications with 6,910 claims ranging from novel nucleotide chemistries to specific drug compositions. The company plans to develop and commercialize its innovative mRNA drugs—initially for rare diseases and oncology—while partnering drug candidates in - 2 - other therapeutic areas in order to rapidly deliver this innovation to patients. Moderna is a privately held company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Visit www.modernatx.com to learn more.