Moderna makes first-ever acquisition with $85m OriCiro buy

Moderna says the acquisition of Japan-based OriCiro will provide it with the tools needed for cell-synthesis and amplification of plasmid DNA.

Moderna will buy OriCiro Genomics, a company founded in 2018 that focuses on cell-free DNA synthesis and amplification technologies, for $85 million, bolstering its messenger RNA (mRNA) technology offering.

OriCiro is Moderna’s first acquisition since the company launched in 2010. The deal  comes two years after the success of its cell-free COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273, which received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2020.

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‚ÄúThrough our first acquisition, Moderna has¬†strategically insourced¬†best-in-class tools for cell-free synthesis and amplification of plasmid DNA, a key building block in mRNA manufacturing,‚ÄĚ a spokesperson for Moderna told BioProcess Insider.

‚ÄúBy insourcing this technology, we¬†de-risk¬†a vital component of the supply¬†chain‚Äč. Cell-free plasmid DNA¬†assembly and¬†amplification can remedy issues with current technology and has been identified as the¬†best-in-class¬†solution. OriCiro‚Äôs technology strategically complements our manufacturing expertise and further accelerates our research and development engine.‚ÄĚ

Moderna says the acquisition will support its growing portfolio of vaccines and therapeutics and bolster its already existing platform technologies. Furthermore, the spokesperson told us it will also gain OriCiro’s space in Tokyo, Japan and that around 30 employees will become Moderna employees once the deal is closed.

Moderna activity

While this might be Moderna’s first acquisition,  the firm has been involved in various partnerships, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The firm stuck deals with various contract development manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) such as Catalent, Lonza and Rovi to support production activities.

Furthermore, on the back of its mRNA success, the firm has laid down plans to build mRNA manufacturing facilities in Kenya, Australia, and Canada.

And last month the firm pledged to create a see an Innovation and Technology Centre in the UK, set to have the capacity to produce up to 250 million vaccines per year in the event of a pandemic.