Moderna Buys Japan’s OriCiro Genomics

06.01.2023 - In its first acquisition since forming in 2010, mRNA specialist Moderna is buying Japan’s OriCiro Genomics for $85 million, expanding its therapeutics and vaccines portfolio.

Tokyo-based OriCiro focuses on the cell-free assembly and amplification of plasmid DNA technology, which aims to replace the conventional cell-based cloning process.

"With this acquisition, we obtain best-in-class tools for cell-free synthesis and amplification of plasmid DNA, a key building block in mRNA manufacturing. OriCiro's technology strategically complements our manufacturing expertise and further accelerates our research and development engine," said Moderna’s CEO Stéphane Bancel.

Its mRNA technology has enabled Moderna to gain a strong position in the Covid-19 space with its Spikevax vaccine. Last month, the company finalized a 10-year partnership with the UK government that will see the establishment of a mRNA R&D and manufacturing facility in the UK, producing vaccines against Covid-19, seasonal flu and respiratory syncytial virus, among others.

Construction is expected to begin early this year at an as yet undisclosed location, with the facility expected to become operational by 2025, subject to planning and regulatory approvals.

Also last month, Moderna and partner US Merck said they had made progress in developing a potential melanoma vaccine. The drugmakers said a study showed that a combination of the vaccine with Merck’s Keytruda immunotherapy significantly reduced the risk of recurrence or death in patients with stage 3/4 melanoma.  

Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist