Moderna pens mRNA immunotherapy pact with Harvard

Harvard Medical School
Harvard Medical School (timsackton/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Buzzy biotech Moderna is to use its mRNA tech to “explore fundamental immunological processes” with researchers at Harvard in a collab effort aimed at seeking out new meds.

The U.S. biotech will work with, and provide some of its deep pockets to the Harvard Medical School (HMS) to create so-called “Alliance for RNA Therapies for the Modulation of the Immune System (a.k.a. ARTiMIS).

This Alliance will focus on immunology using Moderna’s mRNA and nanoparticle delivery tech.  Moderna has also penned another R&D deal with the university at large, through the Harvard Office of Technology Development.

This sees it give out $2.45 million in support of a project led by Ulrich von Andrian, M.D., Ph.D., the Edward Mallinckrodt Jr. Professor of Immunopathology and Director of the Center for Immune Imaging at HMS.

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“This project aims to use mRNA technologies to study and manipulate the migration of immune cells from blood to tissues”, Moderna said in a statement.

The ARTiMIS unit will, as well as using Moderna’s tech, provide cash for “exploratory research projects,” which includes post-doc researchers at HMS, with the biotech handing over a $1.2 million grant.

“Projects selected for funding by ARTiMIS will aim to advance basic understandings of fundamental immunological processes, generate new mechanistic insights in the pathogenesis of immunological diseases and discover novel approaches to the prevention, diagnosis and therapy of human diseases,” the company explained.  

Stephen Hoge, M.D., president at Moderna, said: “Immunological dysfunction is at the heart of many of the biggest medical challenges faced today. Harvard University and its affiliated medical institutions are leaders in advancing basic and translational science to better understand the biological mechanisms of these complex disorders.”

“We believe that combining our technical capabilities in mRNA delivery with Harvard Medical School’s expertise in immunology will lead to innovative therapies with the potential to make a significant impact on people’s lives.”