Pictured: Moderna sign on building in Cambridge/iStock, hapabapa
Vaccine giant Moderna and oncology biotech Immatics have inked a research partnership worth a little more than $1.8 billion in potential payments to the latter.

The collaboration will combine Moderna’s mRNA technology, made famous by its COVID-19 vaccine, with Immatics’ T-cell receptor platform to cover multiple therapeutics modalities including bispecifics, cell therapy and cancer vaccines.

The companies noted in their press release that the collaboration would have three main pillars.

The first is an application of the mRNA technology for in vivo expression of Immatics half-life extended TCR bispecifics (TCER) targeting cancer-specific human leukocyte antigens (HLA)-presented peptides.

The second is an effort to leverage Immatics tumor and normal tissue data in its target discovery platform XPRESIDENT and its bioinformatics and AI platform XCUBE in combination with Moderna’s mRNA experience to develop mRNA-based cancer vaccines.

The third is an evaluation of Immatics IMA203 TCR-T therapy targeting preferentially expressed antigen in melanoma (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,” Moderna and Immatics said in their press release.

Under the agreement, Moderna is making a $120 million upfront payment. Immatics is also eligible to receive additional cash in excess of $1.7 billion in a combination of research funding, as well as development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments. Additional payments are potentially available in the form of tiered royalties on global net sales of TCER and vaccine products commercialized under the agreement, with the potential to opt into a global profit and loss agreement for the most advanced TCER.

Moderna will take the lead in clinical development and commercialization efforts for the cancer vaccines and TCER therapeutics, while Immatics will conduct the preclinical studies and potential Phase I trial investigating IMA203 TCR-T in combination with Moderna’s PRAME mRNA vaccine, though they also noted each company “will retain full ownership of its investigational PRAME compound, and the parties will fund the clinical study on a cost sharing basis.”

It’s just the latest in a series of moves this year by Moderna to partner with other companies in developing mRNA-based cancer vaccines. That includes a partnership with Merck to develop a melanoma treatment and an agreement with China’s CARSgen Therapeutics to combine Moderna’s vaccine with CARSgen’s solid tumor CAR T cell therapy.

Rose Loughlin, Moderna’s senior vice president for research and early development, said in the release that the “collaboration will accelerate the development of novel oncology therapies and bring us one step closer to providing significant benefits for patients with high unmet medical needs.”

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About PackGene

PackGene is a CRO & CDMO technology company that specializes in packaging recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors. Since its establishment in 2014, PackGene has been a leader in the AAV vector CRO service field, providing tens of thousands of custom batches of AAV samples to customers in over 20 countries. PackGene offers a one-stop CMC solution for the early development, pre-clinical development, clinical trials, and drug approval of rAAV vector drugs for cell and gene therapy (CGT) companies that is fast, cost-effective, high-quality, and scalable. Additionally, the company provides compliant services for the GMP-scale production of AAVs and plasmids for pharmaceutical companies, utilizing five technology platforms, including the π-Alpha™ 293 cell AAV high-yield platform and the π-Omega™ plasmid high-yield platform. PackGene’s mission is to make gene therapy affordable and accelerate the launch of innovative gene drugs. The company aims to simplify the challenging aspects of gene therapy development and industrialization processes and provide stable, efficient, and economical rAAV Fast Services to accelerate gene and cell therapy development efforts from discovery phase to commercialization.

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