Moderna Therapeutics, a Cambridge biotech valued at more than $7 billion, is plotting to raise $500 million in what would be the sector’s largest-ever initial public offering.

The company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday in the first step toward listing its shares on the Nasdaq exchange.

Moderna became biotech’s most valuable private startup on the promise of crafting therapies that could transform patients’ cells into microscopic drug factories. Since its foundation in 2010, Moderna has raised more than $2.5 billion through investments and partnerships, choosing to stay private while the biotech industry experienced an unprecedented boom in IPOs.


Now the firm is finally prepared to sell its shares to the public. Moderna did not disclose how many shares it will offer or at what price. The company plans to trade under the symbol “MRNA.”

Moderna claims its technology can use custom-built strands of messenger RNA, or mRNA, to treat scores of diseases. With mRNA, Moderna claims it can compel the body to produce therapeutic proteins inside the body, an approach the company says could potentially upend the pharmaceutical industry in the process. Moderna believes its pipeline of medications could be worth as much as $37 billion a year in revenue, according to an earlier investor presentation obtained by STAT.

But Moderna’s ambitious goals have run into hurdles in the past. In 2017, safety issues forced the company to abandon its most advanced drug candidate, a treatment for a rare disease, and instead prioritize the less lucrative field of vaccines. And over the past 12 months, the company has consistently lost top executives, including the heads of its vaccines, cardiovascular, and rare disease divisions.

Moderna now says it has solved the problems that imperiled its early efforts in mRNA. The company plans to get five new drugs into human trials each year for the next decade, and it has constructed a manufacturing plant to produce the vials of mRNA it will need to do so.


Damian Garde can be reached at damian.garde@statnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @damiangarde. Follow Stat on Twitter: @statnews.