Moderna Therapeutics has launched Valera LLC, a new venture focused exclusively on the advancement of vaccines and therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of bacterial, viral, and parasitic infectious diseases.

A Moderna Therapeutics news release indicates that the vaccines work of Valera builds on a body of preclinical research at Moderna showing the ability of modified mRNA to express viral antigens in vivo and to induce robust immune responses.

Valera’s therapeutic passive immunity programs will expand on Moderna’s research using mRNA to express antibodies that bind to viral and other targets, according to Moderna. The data from these programs combined with the inherent, rapid turnaround time in creating novel mRNA constructs will provide Valera with a possibly powerful and versatile new platform for the creation of an array of vaccines and passive immunity therapies.

Stephane Bancel, CEO and president of Moderna, says, “We are thrilled to launch Valera to bring sharp focus to developing mRNA Therapeutics for a wide range of infectious diseases, which remain a hugely significant global health threat. We believe that mRNA offers unique advantages when it comes to the rapid design and manufacture of new vaccines and therapies, and we have seen promising signs of efficacy in our preclinical work.”

The Moderna Therapeutics news release notes that Bancel will continue to serve as interim president of Valera. Giuseppe Ciaramella, PhD, former vice president and head of immunology and biotherapeutics at Moderna, will serve as chief scientific officer of Valera. Michele Keough, formerly with Moderna’s R&D strategy and operations group, will serve as head of programs and alliance management at Valera.

Valera will expand its team in 2015 and will work out of Moderna’s Venture Labs in Cambridge, Mass.

Source: Moderna Therapeutics