Moderna shoots for $500M IPO, the biggest in biotech history

Two months after rumblings emerged that Moderna Therapeutics was prepping what would be biotech’s biggest IPO, the company has come through, filing on Friday to raise $500 million.

Moderna has raised round after private round, including a $500 million series G in February, which brought its total fundraising north of $2 billion. Shortly after, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company grabbed another $125 million in preferred equity as it expanded a cancer vaccine partnership with Merck.

In its SEC filing, Moderna was vague in how it would use its IPO proceeds. They will go toward “drug discovery and clinical development, further expansion of our manufacturing platform and capabilities and infrastructure to support our pipeline.”

It will also use the funds to support “further development of our mRNA technology platform and the creation of new modalities.” So far, the company has developed six “modalities”—prophylactic vaccines, cancer vaccines, intratumoral immuno-oncology, localized regenerative therapeutics, systemic secreted therapeutics and systemic intracellular therapeutics.

The company switched up its R&D model from a venture-based one to a “therapeutics area R&D model” in September 2017, bringing four separate units back under one umbrella. Now, it has 21 assets in its pipeline, spanning infectious diseases, immuno-oncology and rare diseases. Ten of these candidates are in clinical trials. The pipeline is led by the AstraZeneca-partnered AZD8601, a VEGF-A drug that’s in phase 2 for heart failure.

To ramp up its clinical programs, the company opened a 200,000-square-foot production unit in Norwood, Massachusetts, in July. The site will supply material for its clinical trials programs at an estimated cost of $110 million, with the potential to expand further once Moderna nears the commercialization stage.