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A Start

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.

The Scan

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Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.