May 25, 2020

The untold story of Moderna as the biotech’s coronavirus vaccine faces a test that could make it one of the most consequential startups of all time (MRNA)

A sign marks the headquarters of Moderna Therapeutics, which is developing a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 18, 2020.   REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The biotech Moderna has skyrocketed to global prominence, leading the world’s race for a coronavirus vaccine.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech was founded in 2010 with the ambitious goal to develop a new type of medicine. While its platform remains unproven, it is now being tested under the brightest possible spotlight of a pandemic. 
Here’s the inside story of Moderna’s rise, from an offshoot of stem cell research to routinely shattering funding records on its way to biotech’s top ranks. 
The biotech has spent a decade working to meet this moment, and investors have sent its stock soaring to a valuation of almost $30 billion. The next few months will be a defining period for the future of Moderna. 

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In its short corporate history, Moderna has grown accustomed to breaking records.

A $450 million funding round in 2015 was a record for the biotech industry. Moderna raised even more the next year. And its 2018 initial public offering was the largest ever for a biotech.

Then, this year, the coronavirus struck. Moderna lapped the drug industry in crafting a coronavirus vaccine candidate, zooming past Big Pharma competitors that dwarf the company in size and resources.

Moderna’s experimental serum was the first to begin human testing in mid-March. Now, the biotech is aiming to be ready this fall for emergency use, a development timeline without precedent.

In the process, Moderna has continued to do what it’s excelled at since its founding: woo investors with an ambitious narrative of creating a new class of medicines. The company’s vision can threaten to outpace the business fundamentals, particularly now, as the hopes of a coronavirus vaccine have swelled Moderna’s valuation to $30 billion.

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This week alone, the company put out preliminary, yet seemingly positive data on its coronavirus vaccine. Then, it raised more than $1.3 billion by selling new shares to investors.

Moderna still has no approved drugs on the market. Instead, Moderna has pitched the world on the promise of its unproven technology as a new class of medicine — messenger RNA.

The technology could still prove to be a flop in humans. Moderna’s preliminary data left many questions unanswered, including whether the vaccine can actually prevent people from getting the coronavirus. And it was provided in a press release, not published in a scientific journal.

The next few months will transform Moderna, for better or worse, as the vaccine goes through additional rounds of human testing. As the world waits on a vaccine to save itself from this pandemic, the biotech has become a household name and a leading hope. Moderna has long been one of the buzziest startups in the wonky world of biotech.

Now, in taking on the coronavirus, it has gone mainstream and become of the most consequential startups of all time. Is it ready for the moment?

Breakthroughs in stem cell research suggested a new type of medicine could be possible

In 2007, the Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka found a breakthrough in medical research. He turned regular human skin cells into stem cells, …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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