Mon - Fri 10:00-18:00
Johannesburg, Fourways

Beyond Coronavirus: Moderna Teams Up With Vertex on Cystic Fibrosis Therapy

All eyes are on Moderna‘s (NASDAQ: MRNA) coronavirus vaccine, but the biotech is looking ahead, setting up a new research collaboration with Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRTX) to develop a treatment for cystic fibrosis, which is Vertex’s specialty.

This is actually the companies’ second collaboration to tackle cystic fibrosis. The first project involved using Moderna’s messenger RNA (mRNA) technology to express the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein, which is mutated in patients with cystic fibrosis.

The newest project seems a little more ambitious, but could be a one-time treatment for cystic fibrosis. Instead of expressing CFTR from mRNA, the companies plan to use Moderna’s messenger RNAs delivered with its lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) to express gene-editing proteins that would edit the patients’ DNA so the lung cells express functional CFTR protein.

Doctor with a stethoscope on a patient's chest.

Image source: Getty Images.

The three-year research deal calls for Vertex to pay $75 million upfront to Moderna, which is also eligible for up to $380 million in development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments, as well as tiered royalties on sales of any products that result from the collaboration.

Moderna will be responsible for manufacturing the LNPs and mRNA, while Vertex will contribute other components of the gene-editing therapies that will be formulated into LNPs. Once a candidate is determined, Vertex will be responsible for preclinical and clinical development, as well as selling the therapy, should it make it onto the market.

Interestingly, Vertex already has a license option on CRISPR Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CRSP) gene-editing program to treat cystic fibrosis. It appears Vertex is hedging its bets on two fronts with this second collaboration with Moderna.

10 stocks we like better than Moderna
When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the ten best stocks for investors to buy right now… and Moderna wasn’t one of them! That’s right — they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

See the 10 stocks

*Stock Advisor returns as of August 1, 2020

Brian Orelli, PhD has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends CRISPR Therapeutics. The Motley Fool recommends Vertex Pharmaceuticals. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Leave a Reply

Select your currency
ZAR South African rand