Shares in Moderna jumped on Monday after the biotech firm announced promising results from the first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in people.
Moderna has been working on its mRNA-1273 drug with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, launching an early-phase study on March 16 with 45 volunteers in Seattle.
Interim data from that study, the company said, showed the vaccine stimulated an immune response against the virus in the first eight people who received 25 or 100 microgram doses of the experimental vaccine.
“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 news release.
In trading Monday, Moderna shares rose 26.4% to $84.30.
As The New York Times reports, only larger, longer studies will determine whether the Moderna vaccine “can actually prevent people in the real world from getting sick,” but “the world is desperate for good news” as the virus defies most efforts to control its spread.
Scientists and biotech firms around the globe have been racing to develop a vaccine, with Pfizer and Oxford University also having begun human tests.
The mRNA-1273 vaccine uses genetic code known as messenger RNA to prepare a person’s immune system to fight off the novel coronavirus. According to Moderna, its Phase 1 test volunteers produced binding antibodies to the virus that matched or exceeded the levels found in patients who had recovered from the disease.
Data on those who took a 250 microgram dose was not available but Zaks said if the company goes into production, the dosage would likely be between 25 and 100 micrograms.
Moderna is proceeding on an accelerated timetable, with the second phase involving 600 people to begin soon, and a third phase to begin in July involving thousands of healthy people.
The Phase 1 results “are promising for the Moderna mRNA vaccine candidate and supportive to proceed forward with the planned Phase 2 studies,” Robin Robinson, chief scientific officer at RenovaCare, told STAT.
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