For the average person, the first time the biotech startup Moderna landed on their radar was last year, as the company became a leading contender in the production of COVID-19 vaccines. In November 2020, the results of clinical trials revealed that the Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective in Phase 3 trials and vaccine rollout for older adults began in December. Moderna focuses primarily on messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics. mRNA transports genetic information from DNA to other parts of the cell, making it the perfect modality to deliver anything from vaccines to drugs into the body at a highly efficient level, according to Biospace.
Though Moderna has become as notable as much older companies like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson that are also making COVID-19 vaccines, Moderna is relatively young, having started up in 2015.
In less than seven years, the biotech company has put itself on the map and will continue to be a player in the vaccine game into the future. Here are five facts about the company you may not know.
Moderna Raised a Record-Breaking Amount of Startup Cash
In 2015, Moderna secured a record-breaking $450 million in startup funding, in addition to $340 million in upfront payments from other biopharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca ($240 million) and Alexion ($100 million), according to Business Insider. Total startup cash raised equaled about $950 million. Everyone was banking on the promise of mRNA technologies as the next big thing to treat disease. At the time, they could not have known that this technology would be put in use so soon for a global pandemic.
Moderna Also Broke the Record for a Biotech IPO
Record breaking is kind of Moderna’s thing. In 2018, just three years after it had raised its astonishing startup funds, Moderna’s initial public offering — where people can buy shares of the company and the company earns a symbol on the stock exchanges (MRNA in this case) — the company offered about 26.3 million shares at $23 per share. Trading on the Nasdaq, the company’s value was estimated at about $7.5 billion before it ever produced a single product. At the time of this article, Moderna stock was valued at about $130 per share.
Moderna Will Focus On Epidemics
According to a statement put out to investors, Moderna stated that going forward, it will be focused on developing vaccines not only for common diseases but for those that are “threats to global public health” with a focus on epidemic and pandemic diseases where funding typically comes from governments and nonprofit organizations.
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It Plans To Produce 1.4 Billion Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine in 2022
Though vaccines will slow the roll of the coronavirus, scientists warn it is probably here to stay in a milder version, much the same way as influenza rears its head every year. The company plans to produce even more doses of the vaccine for 2022 to help keep the pandemic under control.
Moderna Is Running Multiple Clinical Trials
Though the COVID-19 vaccine is taking center stage, Moderna is undergoing numerous clinical trials for other products, including eight vaccines, among them cancer vaccines that both prevent and treat cancer and a Zika virus vaccine. The company is also working on therapeutics for such issues as heart failure and Chikungunya, another mosquito-borne virus.
This may be the first look you’ve taken inside Moderna, but it will hardly be the last as the company continues to make its mark on the world of vaccines.
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