Healthcare Roundup – Moderna says dosing underway in Takeda-led early-stage COVID vaccine trial in Japan; Gene editors raise equity as shares climb amid investor interest

Published on: January 21, 2021
Author: Amy Liu

Moderna says dosing underway in Takeda-led early-stage COVID vaccine trial in Japan

Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) announces that the first participant has been dosed in the Phase 1/2 study of Moderna’s vaccine candidate against COVID-19 (mRNA-1273 or TAK-919) in Japan, led by Takeda Pharmaceutical (NYSE:TAK).

The study, which intends to enroll 200 participants aged 20 years and above in Japan, is a placebo-controlled Phase 1/2 study to evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of two vaccinations of mRNA-1273 given 28 days apart.

Moderna’s vaccine was one of the first ones to get approval for use against the novel coronavirus along with vaccine shots from Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN).

However, concerns have been raised surrounding the safety of Moderna’s vaccine after reports of allergic reactions surfaced in the United States.

The update follows an announcement from California saying that it’s safe to resume using a batch of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine after a halt was recommended due to allergic reactions.

Gene editors raise equity as shares climb amid investor interest

In recent months gene editors have witnessed an outsized share price performance driven by seemingly everlasting investor interest. Actively managed ARK Genomic Revolution Multi-Sector ETF (BATS:ARKG) focused on genomics has returned ~94.3% in the past twelve months.

Its sharp gain eclipsing the ~13.3% rise in the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (NASDAQ:IBB) mirrors the performance of three of the fund’s components, Editas Medicine (NASDAQ:EDIT), Beam Therapeutics (NASDAQ:BEAM), and Intellia Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NTLA), which have all seen multifold gains over the past 12 months.

As the company advances clinical trials aiming at groundbreaking therapies based on CRISPR/Cas12a gene editing, the shares of Editas Medicine have soared ~120.4% for the period, prompting the management to announce an equity offer this week for ~$231M of gross pross proceeds.

Beam Therapeutics with a slightly different approach to gene editing for experimental therapies does not even have a clinical-stage candidate in its portfolio. Yet the shares have surged ~340.8% over the past 12 months, and as if to capitalize on the gain, the company announced a private placement for ~$260 of gross proceeds this week.

After a public offering in June 2019 for ~5.5M of common stock to raise gross proceeds of $100M, Intellia Therapeutics, up ~262.4% over the past year, replenished its liquidity to ~$407.9M in Q3 2020 from ~$279.7M in 2019 year-end.

Aurora Cannabis slumps 5.7% after capital raise

Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB) enters into an agreement with a syndicate of underwriters led by BMO Capital Markets and ATB Capital Markets, to buy on bought deal basis 12M units at a price of $10.45 per unit; gross proceeds of ~$125M.

Underwriters’ option to buy additional 10% shares of the offering.

Net proceeds of the offering will be used for general corporate purposes, which may include opportunistically reducing debt.

Offering is expected to take place on or about January 26, 2021.

Shares -5.7% after hours to $10.53.

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