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2023-04-11| Trials & Approvals

Moderna’s mRNA Flu Vaccine Development Slow Going as Data Rolls In

by Reed Slater
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In a recent pipeline update, mRNA therapy pioneer Moderna stated that its quadrivalent flu vaccine, mRNA-1010, is having trouble beating out currently-approved vaccines to prevent influenza B strains. On a brighter note, Moderna said it has an update in store for the flu vaccine candidate that could solve the B strain puzzle.

Leveraging mRNA to Prevent the Flu

For nearly 80 years, the world has had access to potentially life-saving flu vaccines due to the groundbreaking work of scientists like Wilson Smith and Jonas Salk. Even in the earliest days of flu vaccine development, researchers looked for ways to create a vaccine that could tackle more than one strain of influenza. 

All these years later, several companies have multi-valent flu vaccines in their arsenal, but Moderna is trying to take the next big leap in flu vaccine development with a quadrivalent mRNA flu vaccine. The candidate, mRNA-1010, is currently in multiple Phase 3 trials evaluating the safety and efficacy of the jab. 

In a recent pipeline update, Moderna provided an update on the vaccine, announcing that while mRNA-1010 shows exceptional promise for multiple influenza A strains, it is struggling to keep up with influenza B strains. In the P301 clinical trial, Moderna said mRNA-1010 did not meet non-inferiority for both influenza B/Victoria and B/Yamagata strains. 

Moderna made a similar announcement with interim data results in February, but the most recent update provided hope for mRNA-1010’s future. The company said it has an update for the vaccine that could improve its immunogenicity against influenza B strains and will initiate the update in upcoming Phase 3 confirmatory trials. 

Still, mRNA-1010 has not demonstrated any significant safety concerns throughout the clinical trial process. The boost in confidence in that area will keep Moderna’s motivation going through the remainder of the vaccine’s development process.

Related Article: Moving Beyond COVID With mRNA Technology

Moderna’s Legacy Going Forward

With several iterations of its COVID-19 vaccine on the market with more in development, Moderna has made a massive mark on pharmaceuticals and society more generally over the last few years. The company is still working as hard as ever to develop mRNA-based therapies for various diseases like influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, Zika, and even cancer. 

Moderna raked in $19.3 billion in revenue last year compared to $18.5 billion in 2021. With massive figures supporting its revolutionary development programs, Moderna is constantly injecting cash into promising areas that could transform the medical landscape as we know it. 

Despite some turbulence in mRNA-1010’s development recently, Moderna still stands by the vaccine and has hope for its eventual regulatory approval. Moderna’s president, Stephen Hoge, M.D., mentioned in a call recently that many of today’s flu vaccines missed influenza B strain noninferiority endpoints early on and still gained FDA approval. 

All this said, the company plans to work hard to continue developing mRNA-1010 to become the first quadrivalent mRNA flu vaccine. With Northern and Southern Hemisphere Phase 3 clinical trials underway, the world will just have to wait a bit longer for more updates on mRNA-1010’s progress. 

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