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Moderna and Immatics are collaborating to “pioneer novel and transformative therapies for cancer patients with high unmet medical needs,” in a deal worth potentially $1.7B+. They will combine Immatics’ T cell receptor (TCR) platform with Moderna’s mRNA technology, and span modalities including bispecifics, cell therapy, and cancer vaccines. 

Cambridge-based Moderna is famed for the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines that propelled it from a little known startup to multibillion dollar status. Tübingen-based Immatics specializes in finding ways to help T cells hone in on tumor cells. The company has established two proprietary discovery platforms: XPRESIDENT and XCEPTOR. Its aim is to extend the benefits of immunotherapy, already a $100B plus market, although it helps only 20 percent of patients who receive it.

The new collaboration has three key aims:

  • Applying Moderna’s mRNA technology for in vivo expression of Immatics’ next-generation, half-life extended TCR bispecifics targeting cancer-specific HLA-presented peptides. 
  • Enabling the discovery and development of novel mRNA-based cancer vaccines by leveraging Moderna’s mRNA science and customized information from Immatics’ tumor and normal tissue data included in the target discovery platform XPRESIDENT and its bioinformatics and AI platform XCUBE. 
  • Evaluating Immatics’ IMA203 TCR-T therapy targeting PRAME in combination with Moderna’s PRAME mRNA-based cancer vaccine. The collaboration contemplates conducting preclinical studies and a Phase I clinical trial evaluating the safety and efficacy of the combination with the objective of further enhancing IMA203 T cell responses. 

PRAME is PReferentially expressed Antigen in Melanoma, a cancer testis antigen with restricted expression in somatic tissues seen in poor prognostic solid tumours. In August of this year, Immatics announced the initiation of a Phase I/II clinical trial with its proprietary Bispecific T cell engaging receptor (TCER) IMA402 in HLA-A 02:01-positive patients with PRAME-expressing recurrent and/or refractory solid tumors. Initial focus indications are cutaneous and uveal melanoma, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, uterine cancer and synovial sarcoma, among others.

Immatics will receive $120 million upfront cash payment plus research funding with the potential for additional milestone and royalty payments.

“This partnership presents a groundbreaking opportunity to leverage our mRNA technology alongside Immatics’ TCR platform, potentially diversifying and augmenting the way we approach cancer treatment,” said Rose Loughlin, PhD, Moderna’s senior vice president for Research and Early Development.

Immatics will receive an upfront payment of $120 million. Immatics will also receive research funding and is eligible to receive development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments that could exceed $1.7 billion. Immatics is also eligible to receive tiered royalties on global net sales of TCER products and certain vaccine products that are commercialized under the agreement. Under the agreement, Immatics has an option to enter into a global profit and loss share arrangement for the most advanced TCER. 

Moderna will lead the clinical development and commercialization of cancer vaccines and TCER therapeutics resulting from the collaboration. Immatics will be responsible for conducting the preclinical studies and a potential Phase I clinical trial investigating IMA203 TCR-T in combination with the PRAME mRNA vaccine to further enhance IMA203 T cell responses. Each party will retain full ownership of its investigational PRAME compound, and the parties will fund the clinical study on a cost sharing basis. 

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