Moderna's investigational COVID-19 vaccine appears to trigger an immune response, and experts tell the Los Angeles Times that it seems to be a step in the right direction, but also that further testing is needed.
In a paper appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers led by Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute's Lisa Jackson report findings from their phase I dose-escalation analysis of the investigational vaccine, dubbed mRNA-1273. As Moderna announced in May, this trial included volunteers who were given either low, medium, or high doses of mRNA-1273, an mRNA-based vaccine encoding the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein.
Jackson and her colleagues report the vaccine led to anti-SARS-CoV-2 immune responses in all 45 volunteers following two doses.
"It was a small dose-range trial that showed that doses of vaccine were safe, and they induced a neutralizing antibody response similar to natural infection," says Paul Offit, a vaccine expert at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, at the LA Times. "But we need a large Phase III trial."
At In the Pipeline, Derek Lowe notes, though, that antibody levels aren't the only factors that determine immunity, and that he's interested in the CD4+ T cell and CD8+ T cell response data. He adds that he would have liked to have seen a stronger CD8+ response than was reported.
Moderna's phase II trial recently finished enrolling volunteers and its phase III trial is to begin later this month, according to the LA Times.