Merck Bets $250M On Next-Gen Approach To mRNA For Infectious Diseases, Cancer

Merck Bets $250M On Next-Gen Approach To mRNA For Infectious Diseases, Cancer
  • Merck Co & Inc MRK and Orna Therapeutics announced a collaboration agreement to discover, develop, and commercialize multiple programs, including vaccines and therapeutics in infectious disease and oncology.
  • Merck will make an upfront payment to Orna of $150 million. In addition, Orna will be eligible to receive up to $3.5 billion in development, regulatory, and sales milestones.
  • Orna will retain rights to its engineered circular RNA (oRNA) therapies (oRNA)-lipid nanoparticles (LNP) technology platform and will continue to advance other wholly owned programs in areas such as oncology and genetic disease. 
  • Merck will also invest $100 million of equity in Orna's recently completed Series B financing round.
  • oRNA molecules have been shown to have greater stability in vivo than linear mRNA and have the potential to produce larger quantities of therapeutic proteins inside the body. 
  • Newly synthesized oRNA molecules are more compactly packaged into custom LNPs, which Orna has engineered to target key tissues in the body. 
  • Preclinical data has demonstrated the potential of oRNA expression and delivery as an approach for further development in vaccines and oncology therapeutics.
  • Price Action: MRK shares are up 0.08% at $90.87 during the market session on the last check Tuesday.
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