Moderna axes four programs, including two former AstraZeneca collaborations

Moderna, AstraZeneca, R&D, mRNA vaccine, vascular endothelial growth factor

Moderna, following its recent phase 3 success with an mRNA flu vaccine, has made the decision to remove four clinical programs from its pipeline, including two assets that were previously discarded by AstraZeneca.

The first candidate to be discontinued is AZD8601, an mRNA-based therapy encoding vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A) for cardiovascular conditions. Originally a partnership between AstraZeneca and Moderna, this asset became the sole property of Moderna when AstraZeneca abandoned it from their pipeline last year. AstraZeneca had conducted a phase 2a clinical trial, involving direct injection of mRNA into the heart tissue of patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery. While the results showed positive trends in exploratory endpoints related to heart failure biomarkers and patient-reported outcomes, AstraZeneca discontinued the program. Moderna is now following suit.

The second program, MEDI1191, was initiated by AstraZeneca’s MedImmune division and was also abandoned by AstraZeneca. MEDI1191 is an IL-12 mRNA therapy being investigated in combination with the immune checkpoint inhibitor Imfinzi in a phase 1 study for solid tumor patients. Preliminary data from April 2022 indicated partial responses in three out of 31 patients, but AstraZeneca decided to discontinue the program. Moderna is now making a similar decision about a year later.

Moderna’s mRNA-1653, a pediatric vaccine designed to prevent human metapneumovirus and parainfluenza virus 3 (hMPV/PIV3), which can cause respiratory illnesses in children and elderly adults, was the third candidate to be discontinued. Although the phase 1b study involving 51 adults and children concluded at the end of 2022, final data from the trial have not been publicly disclosed.

Lastly, Moderna has decided not to pursue its first-generation combination COVID-19 and flu vaccine, mRNA-1073. The phase 1/2 program involving 553 adults was completed at the end of 2022, but top-line data have not been publicly revealed.

These pipeline changes come shortly after Moderna announced its phase 3 success with an updated version of its mRNA flu vaccine, mRNA-1010, which could potentially launch as early as 2024.

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