UPDATE 2-Moderna signs licensing deal with Generation Bio in push beyond COVID
(Adds share movement, background on Moderna's deals and COVID vaccine sales)
March 23 (Reuters) - Moderna Inc has entered a licensing deal with Generation Bio Co to develop treatments targeting the immune system and liver, the latest such transaction by the vaccine maker as it expands beyond its COVID shots.
Generation Bio's shares rose about 13.14% to $4.40 in premarket trading on Thursday.
Moderna will pay $40 million in cash upfront, and make a $36 million equity investment in Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Generation Bio.
Generation Bio is also eligible for $1.8 billion in payments if its treatments achieve certain development, regulatory and sales milestones.
Moderna will gain access to Generation's proprietary drug delivery system and DNA technology and the option to develop two therapies each targeting liver disease and immune cells.
The Generation Bio deal is the third in a string of recent research and licensing deals by Moderna to expand its messenger RNA-based therapies and vaccines for a wide range of diseases.
The drugmaker signed a licensing deal with cancer-focused drug developer CytomX Therapeutics in January, and collaborated with privately owned Life Edit Therapeutics Inc to discover and develop mRNA gene-editing therapies in February.
Sales of the COVID vaccine, Moderna's only commercial product, are expected to fall sharply to $7 billion this year from $18.4 billion in 2022 as demand wanes and governments and other agencies cut purchases.
Moderna on Wednesday defended its plan to price its COVID shot at an inflated $130 in a U.S. Senate committee hearing.
(Reporting by Mariam Sunny in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)