Moderna vaccine’s progress
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Moderna Covid-19 Vaccine: Phase 1 trial results of the vaccine, mRNA-1273, have been found promising. A look at what the vaccine is composed of and how it works, what the trials showed, and what are the many stages that remain.
What is mRNA-1273?
- It is the working name of Moderna’s vaccine, which is currently in Phase 1 clinical trials under the aegis of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and led by Dr Anthony Fauci.
- The mRNA in the name means messenger RNA, which carries the genetic formula for the coding of a specific protein.
- In this vaccine, the particular mRNA used codes for the most distinguishing feature of the SARS-CoV2 — the spike protein — which is also the appendage that the virus uses to enter the cell and replicate.
- The vaccine, when injected into a person, codes for the spike protein. Thus even without the introduction of an attenuated (recognisable but not harmful) virus into the body, the body learns what the virus looks like and arms itself with the antibodies that are required to act against it.
What are the promising results?
- Moderna has announced that the mRNA, on entering the body, had managed to show a degree of immune response in the first eight patients.
- Among the side-effects that were noted were chills and a little redness in the place where the injection had been given.
- The participants received two doses of the vaccine; different doses were used to test the potency of the vaccine.
- Two weeks after the second dose, even those on the lowest dose showed enough antibodies to raise hopes of being able to thwart an infection. It was the same level of protection that people who have recovered from the infection show.
- The group that got a higher dose had higher levels.
Are these the final results of the trial before the vaccine is available?
- Far from it. The open-label trial will enroll 45 healthy adult volunteers ages 18 to 55 years over approximately 6 weeks.
What is next, then?
- The company announced that it has received regulatory clearance for the Phase II trial that would involve a much larger sample size.
- The imminent Phase 2 study start is a crucial step forward as we continue to advance the clinical development of mRNA-1273, our vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2.
With the goal of starting the mRNA-1273 pivotal Phase 3 study early this summer, Moderna is now preparing to potentially have its first BLA approved as soon as 2021.