Moderna begins first study of mRNA vaccine for flu
Experts have been optimistic that the science and collaboration that went into developing numerous COVID-19 vaccines in record time may help spur development of vaccines against other long-time targets, like influenza.
One such project is now underway: Moderna announced the start of a phase 1/2 study that will evaluate an investigational messenger RNA vaccine for influenza.
The drug maker said the first participants have been dosed with mRNA-1010, a quadrivalent seasonal influenza vaccine candidate that targets two influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) and two influenza B (Yamagata and Victoria) viruses. The trial will enroll approximately 180 adults aged 18 years or older.
After using the technology to create one of the world’s first approved COVID-19 vaccines, Moderna announced earlier this year that it was expanding its mRNA program to also develop vaccines against HIV, influenza and Nipah virus.
Scientists have long sought to improve upon seasonal influenza vaccines, which have not been more than 60% effective in any of the past 11 seasons — although influenza vaccines that are less effective overall still protect against serious outcomes if a person is infected. (The CDC told Healio earlier this year that it would not be able to evaluate the effectiveness of the 2020-2021 influenza vaccines because the season was too mild to produce enough data.)
Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said that the company’s goal is to develop “respiratory combination vaccines” that can be administered each fall and protect people against “the most problematic respiratory viruses,” including influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and respiratory syncytial virus, which surged in recent months amid a decline in COVID-19 mitigation measures.
“We expect that our seasonal influenza vaccine candidates will be an important component of our future combination respiratory vaccines,” Bancel said in a news release.