Moderna plans to develop a single vaccine against multiple respiratory viruses

July 8, 2021
Moderna plans to develop a single vaccine against multiple respiratory viruses

On the back of the stunning success of mRNA vaccines over the past year – slowly but surely against the global COVID-19 pandemic – biotechnology company Moderna, Inc. (Moderna) has announced human trials testing an mRNA influenza vaccine. Known as mRNA-1010, the test vaccine targets influenza lineages recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) including influenza A H1N1, H3N2, influenza B Yamagata and Victoria strains, and is the first seasonal influenza vaccine to enter the clinic.

If successful, the vaccine could potentially do away with lengthy vaccination procedures and still provide ample protection against multiple respiratory viruses.

The Phase I/II of Moderna’s trial is taking place in the US and is designed to primarily evaluate the mRNA-1010 vaccine’s safety and ability to generate an immune response, or immunogenicity. The plan is to ultimately recruit around 180 subjects over the coming months.

As opposed to available influenza vaccines which take time to formulate and produce, mRNA vaccines can be developed quickly once a problematic viral strain has been detected. Egg-based vaccine production – the process used for the majority of currently licensed influenza vaccines – also has the potential to cause unintended antigenic change(s) to the vaccine virus.

Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, said the plan is to not only develop an effective multi-strain influenza vaccine but to incorporate other viral antigens into the one shot to generate a combination vaccine protecting against a number of respiratory viruses.

“We believe that the advantages of mRNA vaccines include the ability to combine different antigens to protect against multiple viruses and the ability to rapidly respond to the evolution of respiratory viruses, such as influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and RSV (Respiratory syncytial virus),” said Bancel. “Our vision is to develop an mRNA combination vaccine so that people can get one shot each fall for high efficacy protection against the most problematic respiratory viruses.”

Meanwhile, another Phase 1 mRNA influenza vaccine trial recently commenced, developed by mRNA therapeutic company Translate Bio Inc. (Translate Bio) – this vaccine focuses solely on the H3N2 strain of influenza. The trial looks to ultimately recruit up to 280 subjects over the coming months, explore several dose levels of the vaccine, and hopefully deliver interim data by the end of 2021.

According to Translate Bio’s CEO Ronald Renaud: “We believe that mRNA technology could have several advantages for a seasonal flu application including the potential ability to demonstrate robust immune responses based on preclinical data to date, enable antigen specificity within a short time-frame from seasonal virus strain selection, and deploy agile manufacturing capacity.”

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Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

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