mRNA-1273: A vaccine against the novel coronavirus


Coronavirus also is known as COVID-19, is spreading rapidly throughout the countries. It is believed to have originated at a food market in Wuhan.

Full-genome sequencing and phylogenic analysis indicated that 2019-nCoV is a distinct clade from the beta coronaviruses associated with human severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

Around the world, the number of cases reached near 100,000. Scientists around the globe sprang into quick action. To tackle the new coronavirus, scientists are accelerating the vaccine process.

A Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company called Moderna that is focused on drug discovery and drug development based on messenger RNA has released the first batch of mRNA-1273, a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, for human use. The company has sent vials of mRNA-1273 to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to be used in the planned Phase 1 study in the U.S.

The vaccine mRNA-1273 was designed in collaboration with NIAID. It is an mRNA vaccine that for COVID-19 encoding for a prefusion stabilized form of the Spike (S) protein. The S protein complex is necessary for membrane fusion and host cell infection and has been the target of vaccines against the coronaviruses.

NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said that a clinical trial could start by the end of April, the “first step” in potentially making a vaccine available for use.

The Wall Street Journal, which was first to report the development, said that two doses of the vaccine would be tested on volunteers to see if it produces an immune response that protects against the virus.

Following this initial safety trial, the vaccine’s effectiveness must be tested in several subsequent trials in larger groups of people before being distributed widely.

Juan Andres, Chief Technical Operations and Quality Officer at Moderna said, “I want to thank the entire Moderna team for their extraordinary effort in responding to this global health emergency with record speed. The collaboration across Moderna, with NIAID, and with CEPI has allowed us to deliver a clinical batch in 42 days from sequence identification. This would not have been possible without our Norwood manufacturing site, which uses leading-edge technology to enable flexible operations and ensure high-quality standards are met for clinical-grade material.”


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