– Orna Therapeutics, founded by MPM and its affiliate BioImpact Capital with funding from the UBS Oncology Impact Fund, announces USD 3.75 billion
collaboration to develop the next generation of vaccines
– 100% of the USD 471 million raised for the fund came from UBS Global Wealth Management clients
– Transaction may revolutionise the way the biotech industry is able to treat infectious diseases and cancer
UBS Global Wealth Management and BioImpact Capital, an affiliate of MPM Capital (“MPM”), announced that Orna Therapeutics (“Orna”), a biotechnology company founded by MPM and BioImpact Capital with funding from the UBS Oncology Impact Fund, has agreed to a landmark collaboration with one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies to create the next-generation of vaccines. The up to USD 3.75 billion collaboration will discover, develop and commercialise multiple programs, including vaccines and potential treatments in areas of infectious diseases and oncology.
Orna will receive USD 150 million cash from Merck, known as MSD outside the US and Canada, and up to an additional USD 3.5 billion in development, regulatory and sales milestones, as well as royalties on approved products. Merck will also invest USD 100 million in Orna’s USD 221 million Series B financing, which will value the company at over USD 1.5 billion.
Orna was created by MPM and BioImpact Capital in 2019 based on groundbreaking research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Orna’s collaboration with Merck is a notable success for the UBS Oncology Impact Fund and BioImpact Capital, the investment manager of the fund. The fund was created in 2016 as an impact initiative that invests in private and public companies developing innovative treatments for cancer and other serious illnesses. Clients of UBS Global Wealth Management contributed 100% of the fund’s capital, USD 471 million, as part of a groundbreaking series of impact investment products, which aim to generate a compelling return and positive societal impact.
“This collaboration marks a tremendous success for the biotech industry and for our clients that invested in the UBS Oncology Impact Fund,” said Iqbal Khan, Co-President Global Wealth Management and President EMEA at UBS. “This is a testament to what can be achieved when we bring together our clients’ wealth and a shared vision to drive greater impact in society. We’re truly connecting people to help create a better world and thank our clients for their commitment to this cause.”
Orna is pioneering a new generation of ribonucleic acid (“RNA”) strands, known as oRNA or circular RNA, to help revolutionize the way RNA sends instructions to cells to make specific proteins. Circular RNA has shown greater stability than conventional, linear RNA and has the potential to produce larger quantities of therapeutic protein inside the body, increasing the ability to treat infectious diseases, as well as cancer. The collaboration with Merck will allow Orna to scale this technology, which could provide significant potential benefits to millions of patients worldwide.
“We are proud to have built Orna with our team in our own offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts,” said Ansbert Gadicke, M.D., Chairman of the Board of Orna, Managing Partner of BioImpact Capital and MPM Managing Director. “We believe this is the largest transaction for a preclinical biotechnology company to date, which demonstrates the power of Orna’s platform. We are grateful to UBS and its clients and look forward to many more successes in the years ahead.”
The second Oncology Impact Fund was formed in 2020, and was 75% funded indirectly by UBS clients via a feeder fund. Together, the two funds have attracted over USD 1.3 billion in capital, making them among the largest biotech impact investment funds in history. A portion of the performance fees from both funds, and royalties from treatments developed by the funds’ start-up companies such as Orna, will be donated to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) to help fund grants for next-generation cancer research, and to the UBS Optimus Foundation to improve access to cancer care in the developing world.