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Moderna (MRNA), Immatics Ink Deal to Develop New Cancer Therapies

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Moderna (MRNA - Free Report) has entered into a strategic research and development collaboration with Immatics (IMTX - Free Report) to develop novel therapies targeting cancer indications.

The collaboration intends to combine Immatics’ T-cell receptor platform with Moderna’s mRNA technology across multiple therapeutics modalities, including bispecifics, cell therapy and cancer vaccines.

The deal will also include the joint development of Immatics’ IMA203 TCR-T therapy targeting preferentially expressed antigen in melanoma (“PRAME”) in combination with Moderna’s PRAME mRNA-based cancer vaccine.

Per the collaboration terms, Moderna will lead clinical development and commercialization, while Immatics will be responsible for preclinical and phase I clinical studies on the IMA203/PRAME mRNA vaccine combination.

In consideration of the rights to use its proprietary platform, Immatics will receive an upfront payment of $120 million from Moderna. IMTX will also be eligible to receive up to $1.7 billion in milestone payments. In addition, Immatics will be eligible to receive tiered royalties on the future sales of therapies developed under this agreement.

The agreement also allows Immatics to enter into a global profit and loss share arrangement for the most advanced TCR bispecifics candidate.

Shares of Moderna have lost 41.1% year to date compared with the industry’s 13.4% decline.

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The deal with Immatics is likely a positive for Moderna, which has reported encouraging data on its personalized cancer vaccine mRNA-4157, being developed in collaboration with Merck (MRK - Free Report) .

Moderna and partner Merck reported new data from a phase IIb study evaluating mRNA-4157 in melanoma indication in June. Data from the study showed that mRNA-4157 combined with Merck’s blockbuster drug Keytruda reduced the risk of distant metastasis or death by 65% compared with participants treated with Keytruda alone. The study had previously achieved its primary endpoint of recurrence-free survival. Based on these positive results, Moderna/Merck initiated the phase III study on mRNA-4157 in melanoma patients in July.

The only marketed product in Moderna’s portfolio is its COVID-19 vaccine, whose sales have started to plunge as the majority of the population across the globe has been immunized, and governments across the world encourage their citizens to resume pre-pandemic behavior.

In July, Moderna initiated regulatory submissions for using its RSV vaccine mRNA-1345 in older adults (60 years and older) in several markets, including the United States and Europe. If approved, mRNA-1345 could be Moderna’s second product launch, expected in 2024. The company is also working on expanding the use of mRNA-1345 in pediatric populations.

Management intends to launch at least one new marketed product every year over the next three years. The scheduled launches also include mRNA-4157 and an influenza vaccine.


Zacks Rank & Stock to Consider

Moderna currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).A better-ranked stock in the overall healthcare sector is Annovis Bio (ANVS - Free Report) , which carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

In the past 30 days, estimates for Annovis Bio’s 2023 loss per share have narrowed from $4.89 to $4.38. During the same period, the loss estimates per share for 2024 have improved from $3.18 to $2.77. Year to date, shares of ANVS have lost 14.0%.

Earnings of Annovis Bio beat estimates in three of the last four quarters while missing the mark on one occasion, witnessing an earnings surprise of 13.40% on average. In the last reported quarter, Annovis’ earnings beat estimates by 6.14%.

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