Thursday brought a flurry of news from Moderna as the company announced the interim results from its Phase III trial of mRNA-1010, a seasonal flu vaccine candidate. Although the results were mixed, the potential of this groundbreaking vaccine is undeniable.
Moderna’s mRNA-1010 vaccine was put to the test in a trial involving over 6,000 adults, and the results were promising. The shot proved superior in protecting against two common strains of influenza A, but failed to meet the same standards when it came to the B/Victoria- and B/Yamagata-lineage strains. Nonetheless, the results of the trial demonstrate the potential of this revolutionary new vaccine.
According to Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, influenza A is responsible for the vast majority of flu-related illnesses among older adults. In fact, the A strain is linked to over 95% of influenza-related hospitalizations in adults. Clearly, this is an issue that must be taken very seriously.
Influenza B has become an increasingly concerning issue, particularly for pediatric populations. This virulent strain of the flu is causing alarm among parents and medical professionals alike, as it is proving to be more dangerous than other strains. In order to protect children from this emerging threat, it is important to stay informed and take the necessary precautions.
A recent Canadian study has revealed that influenza B virus may be more dangerous than previously thought, particularly for children under 16 years old. The study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, found that this strain of virus has significantly higher mortality rates compared to other strains. These findings have been corroborated by other studies, suggesting that influenza B virus should be taken seriously and could lead to serious illness or even death.
Moderna has recently taken steps to strengthen its mRNA platform in light of the prevalence of Influenza B strains among younger population groups. To further validate this approach, an upcoming study has been scheduled to provide further evidence of the effectiveness of this measure.
The mRNA-based flu vaccine was generally well-tolerated, though a higher percentage of participants in the mRNA-1010 group (70%) reported solicited adverse reactions compared to the comparator group (48%). Pain and swelling at the injection site, headache, myalgia, and fatigue were the most commonly reported reactions. Fortunately, no serious adverse events were reported in either group.
Just One of Many Approaches
Moderna’s five influenza vaccine candidates are at the forefront of the fight against this seasonal virus, with mRNA-1010 leading the charge. This vaccine encodes for hemagglutinin, a surface glycoprotein which is the primary target of existing flu vaccines. To increase efficacy, the remaining four vaccines from Moderna’s pipeline focus on both HA and neuraminidase antigens, allowing them to target multiple proteins at various points in the virus’ lifecycle.
Pfizer is actively competing to develop an mRNA influenza vaccine, having dosed its first of 25,000 U.S. Phase III participants in September. With this milestone, the company is making strides towards creating a safe and effective vaccine for the public.
The exciting mRNA vaccine platform has the potential to revolutionize the way we approach seasonal influenza waves. Its flexibility is unmatched, making it possible to respond quickly to whatever strains are circulating in a given season. This could drastically improve effectiveness rates, which have been known to drop as low as 30% due to inaccurate predictions when using traditional technologies. With mRNA, these predictions can be quickly updated and new batches of the vaccine can be released in a timely manner.
The Data and Safety Monitoring Board will soon review the first interim analysis of efficacy conducted by Moderna. At the end of the first quarter, a decision will be made as to whether further data is required to reach a definitive conclusion. It’s an exciting time for the company as they await the results of this important review.