Moderna has finally published intreim results from their Phase I study — 8 weeks after teasing them in a press release — and the picture is generally positive. Their mRNA vaccine raised a dose-dependent immune response in all 45 subjects tested.
Dr. Anthony Fauci told The Associated Press, “No matter how you slice this, this is good news.”
Here is the paper in the New England Journal of Medicine. It’s fairly readable as such things go. I definitely do not know enough about immunology to understand the finer points in Moderna’s data; for that I lean as usual on Derek Lowe. He links to the Twitter feed of an RNAi therapeutics analyst who points out a weakness in the immune reaction (poor CD-8 T cell response) Moderna describes in their paper.
Moderna also details undesirable side effects reported by their study subjects. It is a bit daunting to envision a vaccine that causes so many uncomfortable (but not actually dangerous) reactions being given to millions of people.
Moderna’s stock (ticker MRNA) popped yesterday on the news, dragging the Dow Jones Industrials up along with it.
You’ll recall that a couple of weeks back Moderna announced a schedule slip on their way to Phase III testing. They are now back on track to begin a trial with 30,000 subjects on July 27. This puts them neck-in-neck with Pfizer’s first candidate vaccine. Lowe points out that, comparing the Phase I/II results of the two candidates, Pfizer’s seemed to exhibit milder side effects; and Pfizer did not publish their T-cell profiling, so a comparison can’t be made on that basis.