Boston biopharmaceutical Moderna announced Monday that “positive” data was collected from an early-stage human trial of a coronavirus vaccine, with all 45 participants producing COVID-19 antibodies—and markets responded positively in pretrading hours, as the possibility of producing a vaccine against the virus moved one small step closer.
- The trial participants were divided into three groups, with each receiving a different amount of vaccine: 25 micrograms, 100 micrograms and 250 micrograms.
- Each group received two doses by intramuscular injections in their upper arms, with 28 days between doses.
- After 43 days, or two weeks after receiving the second dose, the 25-microgram group showed antibody levels consistent with blood samples from recovered coronavirus patients, according to a Moderna press release.
- The 100-microgram group produced antibodies that “significantly exceeded” levels seen in recovered coronavirus patients.
- At least eight participants (the first four in both the 25 microgram and 100 microgram groups) developed what are called “neutralizing antibodies,” which defend cells from pathogens or infectious particles.
- Markets jumped in response, with futures on the Dow Jones industrial average up over 550 points; the S&P 500 was up over 60 points, and the NASDAQ over 165 before opening bell.
“These interim Phase 1 data, while early, demonstrate that vaccination with mRNA-1273 elicits an immune response of the magnitude caused by natural infection starting with a dose as low as 25 [micrograms],” Moderna Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tal Zaks said in a statement. “When combined with the success in preventing viral replication in the lungs of a preclinical challenge model at a dose that elicited similar levels of neutralizing antibodies, these data substantiate our belief that mRNA-1273 has the potential to prevent COVID-19 disease and advance our ability to select a dose for pivotal trials.”
Over 100. That’s how many coronavirus vaccines are in development across the globe, according to the World Health Organization. At least eight are in human trials.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Moderna said it expects to begin a Phase 3 trial of the vaccine in July, as Phase 2—with 600 participants—is expected to launch in the near future.
Moderna made its vaccine with mRNA, a genetic material that contains instructions for cells to make certain proteins. With a coronavirus vaccine, the mRNA could tell a person’s cells to make a COVID-19 protein without them actually getting sick. Other companies like Pfizer are developing coronavirus vaccines using mRNA. It was reported May 12 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fast-tracked Moderna’s vaccine efforts, and the company has received $500 million in federal funding for development. Forbes estimated that Moderna’s CEO, Stéphane Bancel, became a billionaire in early April with a net worth of just over $1 billion.