From polio and smallpox to COVID-19, vaccines have been saving lives for centuries. After more than two years of a global pandemic, World Immunization Week offers a moment to reflect on how important they are. Moderna was one of the first companies to develop an effective COVID-19 vaccine using revolutionary mRNA technology, and its mRNA innovation is already helping make the world a safer place. But that’s just the beginning; Moderna’s mRNA platform enables new vaccines to be developed much faster without compromising quality or scalability. Respiratory diseases and latent viruses from influenza to HIV are now in the crosshairs and the implications are significant.
How mRNA vaccines work
Although it was first discovered in 1960Few, apart from scientists, had until recently heard of messenger ribonucleic acid or mRNA. With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, mRNA entered common parlance due to its role in the lightning-fast development of a breakthrough vaccine.
Unlike traditional medicines, mRNA drugs are neither small molecules nor traditional biologics made with the DNA of living organisms. Instead, mRNA drugs are a set of instructions that tell cells in the body to make proteins that prevent or fight disease.
mRNA vaccines are developed using the virus sequence – not by inserting a weakened or inactivated version of the virus itself – and mRNA is broken down in the body within 48 hours of vaccination, leaving no trace of the vaccine in the body. mRNA offers rapid, flexible development and manufacturing, as demonstrated by Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, where the first participant in Phase 1 was administered 63 days after sequence selection.
mRNA made headlines in December 2020 as one of the world’s first COVID-19 vaccines, developed by US pharmaceutical company Moderna, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) began rolling it out to the public.
Moderna’s vaccine was being developed at unprecedented speed, and its public launch marked a turning point in the pandemic. By the end of last year, the company had shipped more than 800 million vaccines worldwide, with about 25 percent delivered to low- and middle-income countries through direct sales or donations.
Despite only being 12 years old, Moderna has firmly established itself as a leader in mRNA technology. It is already having a profound impact on global health, having built the necessary mRNA infrastructure to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine development.
The Company’s mRNA platform is inherently flexible, enabling the Company to rapidly advance mRNA drugs from idea to nomination of development candidates. This means it can be used to contain future COVID outbreaks and manage annual mutations to stay ahead of the virus’ evolution. In addition, the company’s production platform has been designed in such a way that production processes do not need to be changed to produce new boosters or mRNA vaccines.
But the COVID vaccine is just the beginning for Moderna.
During the worst of the pandemic, Moderna continued efforts to address other global health challenges. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of retooling health systems for prevention, and vaccination is a core preventive measure. This principle now guides Moderna’s pioneering vaccine research.
The potential benefits of Moderna’s innovation extend well beyond COVID-19, as the company’s mRNA platform can be used to immunize against other infectious diseases, particularly respiratory diseases and latent viruses. The company focuses on these two categories.
The company is currently working on the development of a pan-respiratory annual booster vaccine covering COVID-19 and influenza and respiratory syncytial virus. This could add tremendous value to the healthcare system by reducing the number of vaccines needed from three to one, with the potential to increase patient compliance and reduce vaccine administration costs.
Moderna is also working to develop best-in-class vaccines against latent viruses, for which there are no approved vaccines today. Latent viruses such as Epstein-Barr, HIV, and cytomegalovirus can infect the body, dormant and not replicating, but can activate and cause disease at any time.
All of this is part of Moderna’s global public health strategy. For developing countries in particular, his work could have a transformative impact on future health outcomes and socioeconomic development. The company has targeted 15 priority pathogens for clinical trials through 2025, including HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, neglected tropical diseases and priority pathogens identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation.
To support this strategy, the company started mRNA accessa program that offers researchers the use of Moderna’s mRNA technology to work on new vaccines against emerging and neglected diseases, and “Disease X” – a name given by the WHO to represent a yet unknown pathogen, which could cause the next serious international disease epidemic.
Regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Moderna’s global campaign also includes a pledge never to enforce its patents for COVID-19 vaccines in 92 low- and middle-income countries, provided the vaccines are approved solely for use in those countries countries made. With that in mind, Moderna has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Kenyan government for its first mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Africa.
The Company’s mRNA pipeline currently includes 44 programs. With the number one goal of World Immunization Week being to keep more people and their communities safe, moderna prevention has never been more valuable.
https://www.politico.eu/sponsored-content/how-mrna-technology-is-on-the-cusp-of-transforming-global-health/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication How mRNA technology stands on the cusp of transforming global health - POLITICO