Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Beyond Coronavirus: Moderna Teams Up With Vertex on Cystic Fibrosis Therapy

By Brian Orelli, PhD – Sep 17, 2020 at 7:03PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

This is the companies' second project to tackle the lung disease.

All eyes are on Moderna's (MRNA -0.55%) coronavirus vaccine, but the biotech is looking ahead, setting up a new research collaboration with Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX -1.01%) to develop a treatment for cystic fibrosis, which is Vertex's specialty.

This is actually the companies' second collaboration to tackle cystic fibrosis. The first project involved using Moderna's messenger RNA (mRNA) technology to express the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) protein, which is mutated in patients with cystic fibrosis.

The newest project seems a little more ambitious, but could be a one-time treatment for cystic fibrosis. Instead of expressing CFTR from mRNA, the companies plan to use Moderna's messenger RNAs delivered with its lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) to express gene-editing proteins that would edit the patients' DNA so the lung cells express functional CFTR protein.

Doctor with a stethoscope on a patient's chest.

Image source: Getty Images.

The three-year research deal calls for Vertex to pay $75 million upfront to Moderna, which is also eligible for up to $380 million in development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments, as well as tiered royalties on sales of any products that result from the collaboration.

Moderna will be responsible for manufacturing the LNPs and mRNA, while Vertex will contribute other components of the gene-editing therapies that will be formulated into LNPs. Once a candidate is determined, Vertex will be responsible for preclinical and clinical development, as well as selling the therapy, should it make it onto the market.

Interestingly, Vertex already has a license option on CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP -2.68%) gene-editing program to treat cystic fibrosis. It appears Vertex is hedging its bets on two fronts with this second collaboration with Moderna.

Brian Orelli, PhD has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends CRISPR Therapeutics. The Motley Fool recommends Vertex Pharmaceuticals. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated Stock Quote
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated
VRTX
$283.45 (-1.01%) $-2.89
Moderna, Inc. Stock Quote
Moderna, Inc.
MRNA
$123.64 (-0.55%) $0.68
CRISPR Therapeutics Stock Quote
CRISPR Therapeutics
CRSP
$63.16 (-2.68%) $-1.74

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
329%
 
S&P 500 Returns
106%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 09/25/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.