RARE Daily

Moderna, Bluebird Bio Raise Combined $1.8 Billion in Secondary Offerings

May 19, 2020

Two biotech companies went to the public markets to raise more than $1.8 billion to fund their programs, including those focused on rare diseases.

Moderna, a developer of mRNA therapies and vaccines targeting infectious diseases, immune-oncology, rare diseases, and cardiovascular diseases, priced a public offering of 17.6 million shares of common stock at $76.00 per share to raise $1.34 billion. The financing comes as the company announced positive results from early-stage human clinical trials of its experimental mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

But Moderna’s pipeline also includes mRNA therapeutics in development that restore the activity of missing enzymes responsible for various rare diseases, such as methylmalonic acidemia, propionic acidemia, phenylketonuria, and Fabry disease.

In October 2019, Moderna received Fast Track designation for mRNA-3927, the company’s experimental treatment for propionic acidemia, a rare, life-threatening, metabolic disorder that leads to a toxic buildup of acids in the body that can cause symptoms such weak muscle tone, poor feeding, vomiting, lack of energy, and more severe health problems including heart abnormalities, seizures, and coma.

Cell and gene therapy biotech Bluebird Bio also raised money in the public markets, pricing a public offering of 9.1 million shares of common stock at $55 per share to raise $500 million.

Bluebird Bio uses three gene therapy technologies, gene addition, cell therapy, and gene editing, to target serious rare disorders such as adrenoleukodystrophy, sickle cell disease, β-thalassemia and multiple myeloma. The biotech’s gene therapy Zynteglo, a one-time gene therapy to treat transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia, was approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2019.

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