April 21, 2024

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Moderna mRNA Flu Vaccine: Early data is not as effective as other flu vaccines

Moderna mRNA Flu Vaccine: Early data is not as effective as other flu vaccines


Moderna mRNA Flu Vaccine: Early data is not as effective as other flu vaccines. 

The higher the expectations, the greater the disappointment.

The stock price of Moderna , a well-known star company for developing mRNA COVID-19 vaccines , plunged 11% last Friday.


Surprisingly, the reason for the plunge is simply that the early data on the flu vaccine developed by the company using mRNA technology is not as effective as the flu vaccines already on the market , although the final evaluation results have not yet been fully released.


Moderna mRNA Flu Vaccine: Early data is not as effective as other flu vaccines. 

Moderna mRNA Flu Vaccine: Early data is not as effective as other flu vaccines. 


People expect that in the development of influenza vaccines, the mRNA technology platform can create another miracle like the development of a COVID-19 vaccine: the best is to do it.


For Moderna, there is only the reality of commercialization of a COVID-19 vaccine, which can no longer support the market value of 100 billion US dollars-compared with the highest point of nearly 200 billion US dollars this summer , it has now fallen by half. It urgently needs to prove that it shines in the field of influenza vaccines, which is a battleground for military strategists. Only in this way can it be truly “stable.”


An mRNA researcher and investor said that Moderna’s setback in the development of influenza vaccines this time is not unexpected: “Moderna’s product pipeline is very large, covering all varieties of the vaccine industry. And it is still rushing to progress, and there is a vaccine design. It’s normal to see the imperfections and the lack of time for comprehensive testing.”


The COVID-19 pandemic has made mRNA and Moderna has made it from unknown to public attention; but it has also created an illusion: the mRNA technology platform is full of hope and omnipotent .


This feeling has caused countless illusions, not only ignoring certain weaknesses of the mRNA technology platform, but also causing capital to flow into the mRNA field irrationally.


“Last year, as long as companies with mRNA platforms have high valuations. It is indeed an important development direction in the future, but it is a bit irrational to give too much expectation.” The above-mentioned investor laughed.


Among the hundreds of mRNA companies, only a few will eventually come out.


mRNA technology: the COVID-19 vaccine is okay, but the flu vaccine is not?


The outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic in 2020 has given the world a “partition” from the dimensions of time and space.

In order to break the isolation caused by the virus, governments, scientists and major multinational pharmaceutical companies are scrambling to study vaccines and new drugs.


The outstanding performance of the two mRNA technology routes of the COVID-19 vaccine has brought huge returns to its developers Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech.

As of 16:00 on December 10, EST, Moderna has been listed for more than 3 years, and its total market value has reached 102.4 billion U.S. dollars.

Its latest Q3 financial report revenue reached 4.969 billion U.S. dollars. BioNTech’s market capitalization also exceeds 60 billion U.S. dollars, and its Q3 earnings report revenue reached 6.09 billion euros (approximately 6.86 billion U.S. dollars) .


For this reason, mRNA technology has begun to receive unprecedented attention. Today, investors are looking at other vaccines and drugs on the mRNA route.


Influenza vaccine is a very important and special category in the vaccine industry.

The current influenza vaccine technology is mainly inactivated vaccine technology.

Since influenza viruses mutate every year, it is necessary to predict the virus strains that will be circulating in the year in advance every year, and then cultivate and inactivate chicken embryo virus strains and arrive in autumn. Before the production is completed.

The cost is relatively high, and the risk is relatively high. Once the wrong bet is made in the spring, the flu vaccine that year will basically be scrapped.

Therefore, how to solve the problem of constantly updating virus strains is the key to the future development of influenza vaccines.


mRNA technology is believed to solve this problem. Generally speaking, the principle of mRNA technology is to inject characteristic fragments of viral genes into the human body.

The human body will express this gene, and then immune cells will specifically recognize it and use it to learn how to fight the virus.

Under this route, vaccine production and iteration are faster, and influenza vaccine no longer needs to cultivate strains every year .


This summer, Moderna launched a clinical trial of mRNA technology influenza vaccine.

Generally speaking, the effectiveness of influenza vaccine is about 40%-60%, and the company hopes that the effectiveness of influenza vaccine under mRNA technology will exceed this number.


A few days ago, Moderna released the interim data of its Phase I clinical trial. Although the company announced that it had obtained “positive” data, the market’s response showed the public’s disappointment with it: it is no better than some high-efficiency flu vaccines that already exist on the market.


“ It can’t be said that it failed, it’s just that it didn’t show superior results .” An investor who pays attention to mRNA technology said that the focus of mRNA vaccines is to increase the speed of development when multiplexing and variable sequences. “I personally look forward to it. The multi-disease combination vaccine, flu vaccine alone, seems to be not good enough at the moment.”


Overheated track with great success


In 2021, around mRNA-related practitioners, there will be a lively scene of flowers blooming and burning oil.


While mRNA vaccines were selected as the top of the “Top Ten Global Breakthrough Technologies” and related researchers won the Lasker Award, mRNA technology was placed with greater expectations: “Bringing another medical revolution” and “opening the way” The door to a new world of pharmaceuticals”…


Tesla CEO Musk, who has become interested in life sciences in recent years, even has mythical expectations for the future of the technology: ” The future of medicine is mRNA. Basically, you can use mRNA to cure everything .”


Internationally, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca, Merck…The major giants have already established cooperative relationships with well-known companies in the mRNA field.


Founded in early 2019 , the frequency and amount of financing announced by Aibo Biotechnology are dazzling: November 2020, A round of 150 million yuan; April 2021, 600 million yuan. People are still looking back at its August 2021 C round of financing of more than 700 million U.S. dollars, “refurbishing the record of single financing before Chinese biomedical companies IPO”, at the end of November, it announced the completion of 300 million U.S. dollars in C+ round of financing . In the last two financings, there is a long list of investment institutions, with dozens of them at every turn.


The good news that continues to spread from the world has made people continue to increase their confidence.


Some time ago, BioNTech announced that an mRNA vaccine for the treatment of advanced melanoma has obtained fast track qualification granted by the US FDA. The company’s founder told the media: “One-third of all newly approved drugs in the next 15 years will be based on mRNA technology.”


A few days ago, a new study by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) showed that an experimental HIV vaccine based on mRNA “showed hope” before the clinic. Rhesus monkeys that had been boosted multiple times infected monkeys/ The risk of human immunodeficiency chimeric virus is reduced by 79%.


The past and the failures behind the long journey


The popularity of mRNA technology today is largely due to the success of the two COVID-19 vaccines. Prior to this, this field has been slowly developing in doubt.


The three most well-known companies in this field were all listed on Nasdaq after many years of establishment: BioNTech, which is famous for the COVID-19 vaccine, was founded in 2008 and went public in 2019; Moderna was founded in 2010 and went public in 2018; with them Curevac, which is also known as the three giants in the mRNA field, was established in 2000 and will not be listed until 2020.


“No one dared to invest in mRNA the year before, because they were unsure. They were mainly investing in some relatively mature and relatively easy-to-success solutions, such as recombinant protein.” said a related industry practitioner.


In addition to the security concerns, the main reason is that this technology platform has not had a successful product for a long time. “This kind of early development of a new technology platform, to be verified, it is best to have a product approved by the FDA or EMA on the market. This is the main way to prove this technology platform.” The above-mentioned practitioner pointed out.


The success of the two COVID-19 vaccines gave people great hope for the possibility of mRNA technology. However, a potential question is, will the success rate be that high in subsequent vaccines or drugs?


In fact, in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA technology has already experienced a well-known failure.


The protagonist of that failure was the German company Curevac , which had always been as famous as Moderna and BioNTech . It was originally expected to design the world’s third COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, but it was abandoned due to poor clinical data : in June 2021, the clinical Phase IIb/III results of this vaccine showed that its effective rate was only 47%, and It does not meet the EMA standards, and the effect is far worse than the two mRNA vaccines already on the market.


In 2020, CureVac, together with Moderna and BioNTech, will have high hopes from all over the world.

In February of that year, Trump had proposed to the company that he hoped to buy out the right to sell its COVID-19 vaccine in the United States.

Later, the German Ministry of Science and Technology also invested huge amounts of financial support to the company and BioNTech. Among them, this company received a capital injection of 300 million euros from the German government.


In the face of the clinical data of the COVID-19 vaccine, one of the three mRNA giants that once stood side by side has been regarded as a lagging behind .


In the next step of the development of the mRNA platform, the hope of success and the risk of failure still coexist.


There are still many levels to reach success

Although at the technical level, mRNA does have a great possibility of “bringing a new round of medical revolution.” However, this “reform of life” era, not instantly come.


The most critical question is, after the COVID-19 vaccine, how many successful commercial products will appear in this field?


Addition to vaccines against infectious diseases, cancer vaccines and drugs, protein replacement therapy (commonly used in some rare disease) , is a major development in recent years, the field of mRNA party to.


The field of oncology is the area where the major companies have the most layout and the greatest hope .

This field is also known as “the biggest piece of cake and a blue ocean in the second half of mRNA “. BioNTech’s recent huge breakthrough in melanoma vaccines is good news in this direction.

However, on the road to challenge tumors, melanoma is often only a relatively preliminary problem.


“Everyone always starts with melanoma, hematological tumors, etc., because these types of tumors have a higher immune response rate, and other reasons are relatively easy to do.

PD-1 is also the first to do melanoma or skin cancer. Everyone’s path is like this.” An industry insider commented.


In the field of infectious diseases, whether the success rate of mRNA technology will be as perfect as the public imagined, it also needs specific data for each product to verify.


“BioNTech and Moderna are currently developing some personalized vaccines, and the data is very beautiful.” A practitioner in the vaccine industry admitted.

However, he pointed out that in the field of common vaccines, the competition has been very fierce-some vaccines from other routes have been used to achieve quite good results. Can the mRNA route be better ?


He took the shingles vaccine as an example. Moderna and Abbio are already in deployment, and domestic companies are still developing the route of recombinant protein vaccines plus new adjuvants.

The efficiency of the latter has reached 90%.

Behind the success or failure of a product, the most fundamental problem is the core technology. The modification, delivery, and synthesis of mRNA are all key technical problems facing the entrants.


Why did CureVac’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine fail, while the other two giants succeeded? According to analysis by industry insiders, a major reason may be that it uses different modification methods from the other two giants .


And more critical than modification technology is delivery technology. “Delivery technology until today is the most deadly and core problem of the entire track, and it is also the key to the core value of this type of company.” An industry insider said.


Not long ago, Moderna lost its share of a patent delivery lawsuit, and its stock price plummeted.


Moderna mRNA Flu Vaccine: Early data is not as effective as other flu vaccines

(source:internet, reference only)

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