Moderna Inc. agreed to pay German biotechnology company Immatics NV as much as $1.8 billion in a broad-ranging, multiyear collaboration on developing cancer therapies using messenger RNA and other technologies.
Moderna will pay Immatics $120 million upfront and up to $1.7 billion if the work hits certain goals, according to a statement Monday. The companies will collaborate on a variety of products, including antibodies produced through mRNA, cancer vaccines and cell-therapy products, most of which have yet to be tested in people.
Moderna has been seeking new ways to deploy its mRNA technology that quickly generated effective vaccines against the coronavirus. Cancer is one of the most promising potential applications, and the company is already working with Merck & Co. on a personalized cancer vaccine for melanoma and other tumors, but testing could take years to complete.
The Immatics collaboration offers a number of opportunities for Moderna to find new applications for its assets. In one part of the joint effort, Moderna will create an mRNA-based vaccine aimed at bolstering an Immatics anti-cancer cell therapy product, called IMA203, that’s in early human testing on its own. Immatics will lead early-stage trials of the combination, if they come about, the companies said.
Moderna would lead the clinical development and sales of other cancer vaccines or mRNA-based therapeutics resulting from the deal. This includes a program to use Immatics’ database of tumor tissues to develop mRNA vaccines against new cancer targets, as well as a separate program to use mRNA to spur the body to make cancer-fighting antibodies.
“We believe this collaboration will accelerate the development of novel oncology therapies and bring us one step closer to providing significant benefits for patients with high unmet medical needs,” Rose Loughlin, Moderna’s senior vice president for research and early development, said in a statement.
As sales for Covid vaccines fade amid pandemic fatigue, Moderna is trying to show investors thats its pioneering technology can work for other diseases. The company has been working with Carisma Therapeutics Inc. since 2022 to develop cell therapies for cancer. It’s also testing an mRNA-based flu shot that it hopes to combine with its Covid vaccine. Key flu-shot trial data is expected soon.
Moderna shares have declined 40 percent since the beginning of the year through Friday’s close.