A Phase I clinical trial evaluating Moderna’s mRNA-1273 to fight against COVID-19 commenced at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) in Seattle—the clinical investigational site was able to dose the first patient. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), part of the NIH, is funding the trial. KPWHRI is part of NIAID’s Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Consortium, and moderna has rapidly ramped up to be able to distribute the experimental vaccine.

Moderna Makes Moves

On January 11, 2020, the Chinese authorities shared the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus. On January 13, 2020, the VRC and Moderna’s infectious disease research team finalized the sequence for the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, and Moderna mobilized toward clinical manufacture. The first clinical batch was completed on February 7, 2020, and underwent analytical testing; it was shipped on February 24, 2020, from Moderna and delivered to NIH from the Company’s manufacturing facility in 42 days from sequence selection.

Study Details

The Phase 1 study is evaluating the safety and immunogenicity of three dose levels of mRNA-1273 (25, 100, 250 μg) administered on a two-dose vaccination schedule, given 28 days apart. A total of 45 healthy adults will be enrolled in the study, and participants will be followed through 12 months after the second vaccination. The primary objective is to evaluate the safety and reactogenicity of a two-dose vaccination schedule of mRNA-1273. The secondary objective is to evaluate the immunogenicity of the SARS-CoV-2 S protein.

“This study is the first step in the clinical development of an mRNA vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, and we expect it to provide important information about safety and immunogenicity. We are actively preparing for a potential Phase 2 study under our own IND,” said Tal Zaks, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Medical Officer at Moderna. “We are grateful to NIH for their ongoing collaboration and to CEPI for funding the initial manufacturing of mRNA-1273 and are proud to be included with the many companies, worldwide health agencies and NGOs working on a possible response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.”

What is mRNA-1273

mRNA-1273 is an mRNA vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 encoding for a prefusion stabilized form of the Spike (S) protein, which was selected by Moderna in collaboration with investigators from the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of NIH. The manufacture of the first clinical batch was funded by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

Who is Moderna?

Moderna is a clinical-stage biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines to create a new generation of transformative medicines for patients, and today announced that the first participant has been dosed in the Phase 1 study of the Company’s mRNA vaccine (mRNA-1273) against the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). This Phase 1 study is being conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under its own Investigational New Drug (IND) application. For a profile of the company, see the link.

Next Steps for mRNA-1273

The Company is actively preparing for a potential Phase 2 study under its own IND to build on data from the ongoing Phase 1 study being conducted by the NIH. In order to continue to progress this potential vaccine during the ongoing global public health emergency, Moderna intends to work with the FDA and other government and non-government organizations to be ready for a Phase 2 and any subsequent trials, which are anticipated to include a larger number of subjects and which will seek to generate additional safety and immunogenicity data. Manufacture of the mRNA-1273 material for the potential Phase 2 trial, which could begin in a few months, is underway. Moderna continues to prepare for the rapid acceleration of its manufacturing capabilities that could allow for the future manufacture of millions of doses should mRNA-1273 prove to be safe and effective.

About Coronavirus

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can lead to respiratory illness, including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). Coronaviruses can be transmitted between animals and people and evolve into strains not previously identified in humans. On January 7, 2020, a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) was identified as the cause of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China, and additional cases have been found in a growing number of countries.

About Moderna’s Prophylactic Vaccines Core Modality

Moderna scientists designed the Company’s prophylactic vaccines modality to prevent infectious diseases. More than 1,400 participants have been enrolled in Moderna’s infectious disease vaccine clinical studies under health authorities in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. Based on clinical experience across six Phase 1 studies, the Company has designated prophylactic vaccines a core modality and intends to accelerate development of its infectious disease vaccine candidates.

The potential advantages of an mRNA approach to prophylactic vaccines include the ability to mimic natural infection to stimulate a more potent immune response, combining multiple mRNAs into a single vaccine, rapid discovery to respond to emerging pandemic threats and manufacturing agility derived from the platform nature of mRNA vaccine design and production. 

Source: Moderna

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