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(Reuters) – Moderna Inc on Thursday announced a $35 million licensing deal with cancer-focused drug developer CytomX Therapeutics to work on messenger RNA-based therapies for a wide range of diseases.

Shares of California-based CytomX rose more than 50% in extended trading.

The firm will get $5 million in prepaid research funding as part of the upfront payment and it is eligible for up to about $1.2 billion in future milestone payments, the companies said in a joint statement.

The news comes a month after an experimental cancer vaccine from Moderna based on mRNA technology was shown to work against a type of skin cancer.

The deal offers CytomX access to Moderna’s mRNA technology, which has been used to develop COVID-19 vaccines, while Moderna would get access to CytomX’s Probody platform, used in the development of cancer therapies targeting diseased tissues.

Moderna said it will also pay tiered royalties to CytomX on global sales of any products which enter the market under the deal. The agreement also provides the biotech company the option to participate in a future equity financing by CytomX.

The companies will work together to discover experimental therapies and Moderna will be responsible for human trials and commercial activities of products.

An mRNA-based therapy or vaccine works by instructing human cells to produce proteins that can spur the immune system into action.

(Reporting by Bhanvi Satija in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

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