Moderna Takes the Scalpel to Four Clinical Ventures, Rescuing Two Castaways AstraZeneca Left Behind

Moderna Drops Four Clinical Initiatives, Rescuing Two Left Adrift by AstraZeneca

In a strategic shake-up, Moderna made waves on Wednesday by trimming its clinical development portfolio, saying goodbye to four projects, including two that AstraZeneca had previously abandoned.

The decision to bid adieu to these four clinical programs was unveiled during Moderna’s annual R&D Day, and it was all part of their routine pipeline assessment. Stephen Hoge, Moderna’s President, emphasized that their mRNA-based drug discovery and development platform was both a blessing and a curse, as its productivity often led to tough decisions about where to focus their energies.

Among the casualties are two former AstraZeneca comrades: AZD8601, part of the VEGF-A program, and MEDI1191, a component of the IL-12 program.

AZD8601, an mRNA therapeutic targeting VEGF-A, once held promise. Moderna shared data from the AstraZeneca-led Phase II EPICCURE study in November 2021, highlighting its safety and efficacy signals, including improved heart function. However, by August 2022, AstraZeneca had already called it quits on AZD8601.

Not long after, in November 2022, AstraZeneca also cut ties with the IL-12 program MEDI1191. This program was exploring a combination regimen with the PD-L1 inhibitor durvalumab to combat advanced solid tumors. MEDI1191, with its cutting-edge lipid nanoparticle formulation, aimed to boost IL-12 production for potent anti-tumor effects.

Moderna’s streamlining efforts didn’t stop there. They bid farewell to mRNA-1653, a pediatric vaccine candidate targeting human metapneumovirus and parainfluenza type 3 virus, which was in a Phase Ib study.

Also, Moderna put its first-generation COVID-19 and flu combo vaccine mRNA-1073 on the back burner. Just last year, during the 2022 R&D Day, they were conducting Phase I/II trials for this candidate. Instead, the focus shifted to mRNA-1230, a triple-threat vaccine also in Phase I/II, targeting COVID-19, flu, and respiratory syncytial virus.

These cuts came on the same day that Moderna celebrated a remarkable Phase III triumph with mRNA-1010, their mRNA-based flu vaccine candidate. According to an interim analysis of the late-stage study, mRNA-1010 met all its co-primary endpoints across four influenza A and B strains, marking a significant win for the Massachusetts-based biopharma giant.

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