Amount: $500 million
Round: Series G
Investors: A wholly owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, ArrowMark Partners, Alexandria Venture Investments, BB Biotech AG, Julius Baer, Singapore-based EDBI, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Pictet, Sequoia Capital China, and Viking Global Investors
The scoop: When Moderna Therapeutics raised $474 million in 2016, its next step was widely expected to be—finally—an IPO. The company got there eventually, last December, but not before it grabbed another mammoth VC round of $500 million and $125 million on top of that from an expanded cancer vaccines pact with Merck.
The series G equipped Moderna to build out its manufacturing and gather more data on its pipeline of mRNA candidates, which includes pushing some of its programs into phase 2. The company also planned to use the proceeds to lay the groundwork for new pipeline prospects.
The series G haul wasn’t just impressive because of its eye-watering amount; it was extraordinary that a biotech company that had not yet brought a product to market, let alone to late-stage studies, could command such a sum.
Add to that some uncertainty about Moderna’s path to market, because the FDA hasn’t yet reviewed any mRNA-based drug. The company's portfolio is entirely based on mRNA, which the company calls “the software of life.” Moderna believes its mRNA-based medicines will trigger production of proteins needed to treat a whole host of diseases, from heart failure to cancer.
Several of its 21 assets have reached phase 1, with an AstraZeneca-partnered VEGF-A drug in phase 2 for myocardial ischemia. Its other programs include a clutch of vaccines, including immunizations for flu, Zika and chikungunya virus, personalized cancer vaccines and genetic disorders, such as Fabry disease and phenylketonuria.