Moderna and AbCellera join forces to develop antibody therapies

Moderna’s mRNA technology platform will be combined with AbCellera’s AI-powered antibody discovery platform to develop mRNA-encoded antibody therapeutics.

The multi-year deal, of which financial details have not been disclosed, will see Moderna use AbCellera’s antibody discovering platform to search and examine natural immune responses to identify therapeutic antibodies against up to six targets.

AbCellera’s platform will be combined with Moderna’s messenger RNA (mRNA) technology platform with a shared aim of accelerating the development of mRNA-encoded antibody therapeutics.

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Under the terms of the deal, Moderna will have the rights to commercialize antibodies developed as part of the collaboration.

AbCellera will receive research payments and also has the potential to collect downstream clinical and commercial milestone payments as well as eligibility to get royalties on net sales of products from Moderna.

“Over the past year, Moderna has demonstrated the speed and impact of its mRNA vaccine technology in helping to protect people around the world,” said Carl Hansen, CEO of AbCellera.

“We are excited to work alongside their team to advance RNA-encoded antibodies as a new frontier in genetic medicines,” he added.

mRNA acceleration

The demand for mRNA products has risen significantly in response to its COVID-19 vaccine success.

BioNTech’s BNT162b2 became the first mRNA COVID-19 vaccine to receive US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use approval in December 2020 and Moderna’s cell-free COVID-19 vaccine mRNA-1273 received emergency authorization later that month.

Moderna is now on track to deliver 3 billion doses in 2022 with help from recently added space at contract development manufacturing organization (CDMO) Resilience’s Ontario, Canada site.

Both Moderna and BioNTech are developing other mRNA therapeutics and vaccines. BioNTech launched its Malaria project in August, which aims to produce a successful malaria vaccine using the same mRNA technology behind its COVID-19 jab.

This month, Moderna partnered with non-profit firm Institute for Life Changing Medicines  to develop mRNA-3351, which aims to treat ultra-rare disease Crigler-Najjar Syndrome Type 1.

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