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Moderna Branches Out

After making a name for itself by providing the world with one of the two mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 this past year, biotech company Moderna is now jumping into gene editing. According to FierceBiotech, Moderna has signed a research partnership with CRISPR gene editing company Metagenomi to jointly develop CRISPR-based therapeutics.

There aren't a lot of details so far, FierceBiotech says. The partners haven't said what diseases they’ll go after, how many targets they will develop, or how much money is involved. What is known is that the collaboration will involve in vivo treatment options for serious genetic diseases, Metagenomi will provide access to its gene editing tools, and Moderna will provide its expertise in mRNA and lipid nanoparticle delivery technologies, FierceBiotech adds.

This news isn't too surprising, perhaps. Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel told investors during the company's second quarter earnings conference call in August that they planned to spend some money on a gene editing deal of some kind. Moderna President Stephen Hoge further clarified that Moderna is interested in improving delivery mechanisms in gene editing with its mRNA technology, FierceBiotech says.

What made Metagenomi stand out as a potential partner is that Eric Huang, general manager and chief scientific officer of Moderna Genomics, serves on Metagenomi’s science advisory board, and he liked the company's data when presented with it. Metagenomi’s discovery platform finds DNA from natural samples that can be sequenced to create new tools for gene editing. Drug candidates are then identified using AI, FierceBiotech says.