Moderna hopes to have new vaccines for most cancers and coronary heart illness by 2030
Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine is prepared for administration ahead of a free distribution of rapid over-the-counter Covid-19 test kits to people receiving their vaccines or booster shots on January 7, 2022 at Union Station in Los Angeles, California.
Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images
Modern hopes to offer a new line of life-saving vaccines for cancer, heart disease and other conditions by 2030, a company spokesman told CNBC on Monday.
The spokesman confirmed statements made by Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Paul Burton, told the Guardian on Saturday. Burton said he’s confident those jabs will be ready by the end of the decade, adding that Moderna could potentially offer them in as little as five years.
He noted that advances in messenger RNA or mRNA technology have heralded a golden age for new injections since the start of the Covid pandemic.
“I think what we’ve learned over the past few months is that if you ever thought mRNA was just for infectious diseases or just for Covid, the evidence now is that’s absolutely not the case,” Burton told the Guardian . “It can be applied to all sorts of disease areas; we’re in cancer, infectious diseases, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, rare diseases.”
Studies on vaccines for these disease areas have shown “enormous promise,” he added.
Burton’s comments come as Moderna navigates its post-pandemic boom fueled by its mRNA Covid vaccine. Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the company became a household name for its messenger RNA technology, which teaches human cells to produce a protein that elicits an immune response against a specific disease.
Burton’s comments also come ahead of Moderna’s vaccination day on Tuesday. At the annual event, the company usually presents updates on vaccine development.
He highlighted Moderna’s personalized cancer vaccine, a highly anticipated mRNA syringe being developed with Merck to target different tumor types. Burton told the Guardian the vaccine will be “highly effective” and “save hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives”.
In February, the Food and Drug Administration granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation to Moderna’s personalized cancer vaccine in combination with Merck’s immunotherapy drug Keytruda for patients with a deadly form of skin cancer called melanoma. This designation is intended to expedite the development and review of medicines for serious or life-threatening conditions.
The FDA’s decision came two months after Moderna highlighted a Phase 2 clinical trial that showed the vaccine combined with Keytruda reduced melanoma recurrence by 44%.
Burton also underscored the ability of messenger RNA to target rare diseases for which no treatments yet exist. These mRNA therapies could be available in a decade, he said.
“I think we’re going to have mRNA-based therapies for rare diseases that previously couldn’t be treated with drugs, and I think in 10 years we’re going to get closer to a world where you really identify the genetic cause of a disease and go with it relative simplicity, go and edit that and fix it with mRNA-based technology,” he told the Guardian.
These diseases include respiratory syncytial virus or RSV. Moderna is among a few drugmakers fighting to introduce the world’s first vaccine against the deadly virus, which infects the lungs and respiratory tract and usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms.
The virus kills 6,000 to 10,000 seniors and a few hundred children under the age of five each year.
Like the cancer vaccine, Moderna’s potential RSV vaccine for adults age 60 and older received Breakthrough Therapy designation from the FDA earlier this year. The designation was based on positive topline data from Moderna’s Phase 3 clinical trial of the vaccine.
Moderna’s vaccine was 83.7% effective in preventing RSV with two or more symptoms in people 60 years and older and 82.4% effective in preventing lower respiratory tract disease with three or more symptoms. No safety concerns were identified during the study, and the company said it intends to release the full dataset and share the results during an upcoming medical conference.
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