AstraZeneca pours more money into the Moderna pot

AstraZeneca ($AZN) has added an extra $140 million into the much-hyped early-stage mRNA biotech Moderna Therapeutics, adding to the company’s already huge VC cash pile of more than $1.2 billion.

This is according to Reuters, which said the two had extended their deal this week. Neither Astra nor Moderna however have released this publicly, and did not respond to requests from FierceBiotech about the upped stake.

The cash boost news comes just a few weeks after Moderna announced it would start the first trial under its existing collab with AstraZeneca. The Phase I study will test their experimental cardiometabolic drug AZD8601.

The biotech’s core tech is focused on using messenger RNA, or mRNA, to spur the production of human proteins within patient cells, creating what Moderna describes as an in vivo factory for targeted therapies.

AstraZeneca first signed up to a research pact with the biotech--a Fierce 15 company--back in 2013, and at the start of the year also saw the two pen another pact, this time on immuno-oncology mRNA therapeutics.

AstraZeneca is not the only one interested; Moderna has also gained much attention and R&D deals from Alexion ($ALXN), Merck ($MRK) and Vertex ($VRTX).

Reuters said that the new investment, part of a preferred-stock financing, lifted Astra’s stake in Moderna to 9%, up from its original investment three years ago.

- check out the Reuters story

Special Report: Moderna Therapeutics - 2013 Fierce 15

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