Moderna and the Institute for Life Changing Medicines Announce a New Collaboration to Develop an mRNA Therapeutic for Ultra-Rare Disease, Crigler-Najjar Syndrome Type 1
Moderna to provide investigational mRNA CN-1 therapy free of charge
Moderna, Inc., (Nasdaq: MRNA) a biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines and the nonprofit Institute for Life Changing Medicines (ILCM), today announced a new collaboration to develop a new mRNA therapeutic (mRNA-3351) for Crigler-Najjar Syndrome Type 1 (CN-1), an ultra-rare disease. It is estimated that there are only approximately 70-100 known cases of CN-1 in the world. The goal of the collaboration is to make an mRNA therapy for the treatment of CN-1 available at no cost to patients.
Under the terms of the agreement, Moderna will license mRNA-3351 to ILCM with no upfront fees, and without any downstream payments. ILCM will be responsible for the clinical development of mRNA-3351. ILCM plans to initiate clinical studies of mRNA-3351 in 2022.
Crigler-Najjar Syndrome Type 1 (CN-1) is an ultra-rare genetically inherited disorder caused by the mutation in the UGT1A1 gene in which bilirubin, a substance made by the liver cannot be broken down. The syndrome occurs when the protein that normally converts bilirubin into a form that can be easily removed from the body does not work properly. Without this enzyme, bilirubin can build up in the body and lead to jaundice and damage to the brain, muscles and nerves. The symptoms become apparent shortly after birth and can be life-threatening.
Current standard of care treatments rely on phototherapy treatments of up to 12 hours a day throughout life. The only definitive treatment is liver transplant that is associated with its own set of side effects and risk of death.
“At Moderna, we believe that mRNA therapies have the potential to profoundly impact rare disease patients and their families. Ultra-rare diseases are always a challenge for our industry given the very small number of patients who could benefit from the medicine,” said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna. “We decided that rather than charge a high price for the medicine candidate, which is not aligned with our values, we would rather give it away for free. In this innovative partnership, the Institute for Life Changing Medicines will not pay Moderna an upfront fee or any downstream payments. Moderna will also provide the mRNA-3351 material free of charge. mRNA-3351 is a therapeutic candidate for Crigler-Najjar Syndrome Type 1 and our goal is to bring new hope for patients and their families.”
“Children with this disease can be stigmatized for being severely jaundiced while living in fear of experiencing a life-threatening episode of kernicterus,” said James M. Wilson, MD, PhD, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of the Institute and Director of the Orphan Disease Center, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. “The mRNA therapeutic platform of Moderna has the potential to not only treat but to prevent these lethal metabolic crises. This partnership with Moderna could serve as a model for developing life changing medicines for those living with rare diseases when traditional business models for drug development fall short.”
“We are energized to collaborate with Moderna to advance an mRNA for treating Crigler-Najjar,” said Alex Karnal, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Institute for Life Changing Medicines. “At the Institute, we believe that a healthy life is a basic human right, and we are fighting to improve the lives of all people suffering from less common but still devastating diseases. We are grateful for Moderna’s support of our novel nonprofit business model by providing our first medicine aimed at transforming the lives of people suffering from Crigler-Najjar syndrome around the world.”
mRNA-3351 encodes for the human UGT1A1 and is designed to restore the missing or dysfunctional proteins that causes Crigler-Najjar Syndrome Type 1. The proposed therapeutic uses the same proprietary LNP formulation as Moderna’s antibody against chikungunya virus (mRNA-1944), propionic acidemia (mRNA-3927), and methylmalonic acidemia (mRNA-3704) programs. mRNA-3351 has been granted Rare Pediatric Disease designation by the U.S. FDA.
About The Institute for Life Changing Medicines
The Institute for Life Changing Medicines believes that a healthy life is a basic human right. The Institute identifies, develops, and promotes access to life changing medicines that are designed to treat small populations of patients and are therefore not considered commercially viable. The organization’s pipeline of next generation medicines includes cell and gene therapies for the treatment of rare diseases. Visit https://www.lifechangingmedicines.org/ to learn more.
In 10 years since its inception, Moderna has transformed from a science research-stage company advancing programs in the field of messenger RNA (mRNA), to an enterprise with a diverse clinical portfolio of vaccines and therapeutics across six modalities, a broad intellectual property portfolio in areas including mRNA and lipid nanoparticle formulation, and an integrated manufacturing plant that allows for both clinical and commercial production at scale and at unprecedented speed. Moderna maintains alliances with a broad range of domestic and overseas government and commercial collaborators, which has allowed for the pursuit of both groundbreaking science and rapid scaling of manufacturing. Most recently, Moderna’s capabilities have come together to allow the authorized use of one of the earliest and most-effective vaccines against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moderna’s mRNA platform builds on continuous advances in basic and applied mRNA science, delivery technology and manufacturing, and has allowed the development of therapeutics and vaccines for infectious diseases, immuno-oncology, rare diseases, cardiovascular diseases and auto-immune diseases. Today, 24 development programs are underway across these therapeutic areas, with 15 programs having entered the clinic. Moderna has been named a top biopharmaceutical employer by Science for the past six years. To learn more, visit www.modernatx.com.
Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended, including regarding: the Company’s collaboration with the Institute for Life Changing Medicines on the development of an mRNA therapeutic (mRNA-3351) for Crigler-Najjar Syndrome Type 1; the structure of the collaboration; and the Company’s approach to ultra-rare diseases. The forward-looking statements in this press release are neither promises nor guarantees, and you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements because they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors, many of which are beyond Moderna’s control and which could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. These risks, uncertainties, and other factors include those other risks and uncertainties described under the heading “Risk Factors” in Moderna’s most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and in subsequent filings made by Moderna with the SEC, which are available on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. Except as required by law, Moderna disclaims any intention or responsibility for updating or revising any forward-looking statements contained in this press release in the event of new information, future developments or otherwise. These forward-looking statements are based on Moderna’s current expectations and speak only as of the date hereof.