Moderna bolsters leadership with new execs to support upcoming pipeline push
Published: Sep 30, 2022
By Tristan Manalac
Starting in the new year, Moderna’s sitting Chief Technical Operations and Quality Officer, Juan Andres, will serve as the President of Strategic Partnerships and Enterprise Expansion. Succeeding him will be Dr. Jerh Collins, Ph.D., a recent recruit from fellow industry giant Novartis. Both will report directly to company CEO Stéphane Bancel.
Moderna is best known for its COVID-19 vaccine, which represents more than a decade of the company’s work on mRNA technologies. As it enters what Bancel calls “its next phase of growth,” Moderna might be looking to leverage this mRNA expertise in other treatment modalities and therapeutic areas.
During its annual R&D day held earlier this month, Moderna announced that it expected to start launching its most mature mRNA vaccine candidates as early as next year.
Chief among these is mRNA-1010, the company’s vaccine for seasonal influenza. The shot encodes for the hemagglutinin protein, a major surface marker of the influenza virus, and is designed to induce immunity against the four major strains identified by the WHO. MRNA-1010 is currently in a fully enrolled Phase III study in the southern hemisphere, while a similar trial is forthcoming for the northern hemisphere.
The company also has an mRNA-based respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine. Dubbed mRNA-1345, the candidate is in a large Phase III placebo-controlled trial, the enrollment for which is ongoing. Initial efficacy data are expected to roll in later this year or early next year.
Moderna is also using its mRNA know-how to develop combination vaccines. One candidate, mRNA-1073, is in Phase I/II evaluations for COVID-19 and influenza. Another, mRNA-1230, will enter trials later this year for COVID-19, flu and RSV.
The company’s pipeline extends beyond respiratory viruses. It has a Phase III trial for mRNA-1647, a vaccine candidate for cytomegalovirus, and a Phase II study testing its personalized cancer vaccine (PCV), which selectively treats a patient’s cancer according to the unique mutations in their tumors.
The initial readout for the PCV candidate is expected late next year. Moderna is also using the mRNA technology against a host of rare diseases such as propionic acidemia and glycogen storage disease.
Changes to the Masthead
As Moderna’s Chief Technical Operations and Quality Officer, Andres oversaw the company’s manufacturing operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, making sure that the company is able to maintain its vaccine production processes and deliver doses to patients.
Last month, the FDA flagged issues in this manufacturing pipeline, particularly with Moderna’s Catalent plant in Indiana, disallowing the use of shots from this site. The regulatory agency greenlit the use of ten batches of shots from the Catalent factory earlier this month following a data review.
In his new role, Andres will work to form and foster even more deals and collaborations for the company, helping support the development and commercialization of these candidates.
Meanwhile, Collins brings nearly three decades of experience from Novartis. During this time, he worked in pharmaceutical production and manufacturing, eventually assuming the role of Head of the company’s Global Chemical Operations and Anti-Infectives, as well as Head of Global Chemical Operations.
For Moderna, Collins will help expand the production footprint, enabling Moderna to become more self-sufficient as it expands internationally.
Earlier this month, the company also welcomed industry veteran James Mock as its new Chief Financial Officer. Mock had previously been a senior vice president and CFO of PerkinElmer, a firm focused on life sciences, diagnostics and analytics solutions. He brings more than 20 years of financial oversight and growth experience to Moderna.