Covid vaccine, Modern mRna technical head against influenza

The US biotech, on the wave of the positive results of the anti-Covid vaccine, is testing an mRna preparation against influenza and two other respiratory viruses

(Image: Diana Polekhina/Unsplash)

The technology of mRna vaccines it doesn’t stop anymore. And after proving itself effective in countering the infection and the most serious symptoms of Covid-19, even in the case of virus mutates, is also beginning to be used for immunization from other diseases, first of all theinfluenza. Today’s news is the beginning of first clinical trial for a new mRna flu vaccine developed by Modern. It is the US company itself to announce it with a official press release.

As usual, the first clinical trials, phase I and II, are aimed at first evaluating the safety of the vaccine. Only later will you begin to think about its effectiveness. The preparation, which will be tested in such a way randomized and in double blind on a small sample of 180 people, it is called mRna-1010 and was specifically designed against four strains of the influenza virus that circulate seasonally each year, just like the flu tetravaccines currently on the market. The four stocks, reports Ars Technica, are those identified byWorld Health Organization, or H1N1 e H3N2 (influenza A) e Yamagata e Victoria (influenza B).

In the future, if the vaccine is actually effective, it could be combined with three other preparations (always at mRna) designed to fight two respiratory viruses that usually circulate together with the flu, the respiratory syncytial virus (Rsv) and the metapneumovirus umano (hMpv), as well as, of course, the Sars-CoV-2, which according to many could become seasonal. At present, there is no vaccine against either RSV or hMpv.

“We are convinced – Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, explained in the press release – that the advantages of mRna vaccines lie in the fact of combine different antigens, able to protect against various viruses, and to be able to respond quickly to the evolution of respiratory viruses such as influenza, Sars-CoV-2 and RSV. Our goal is to sdevelop a combined mRna vaccine which can be inoculated to patients once a year, in autumn, and which is highly effective against the most problematic respiratory viruses “. The flu vaccines that we currently have available they have an effectiveness that varies between 40% and 60% (or even lower, in particularly unfortunate years): experts therefore hope that, by switching to mRna technology, higher levels of effectiveness can be achieved, as happened for Covid-19.

How mRna vaccines work

As there we had told, mRna vaccines use a molecule (messenger RNA, in fact) to induce the production of a protein of the virus. The principle is this: mRna supplies host cells with them instructions for making a virus protein (like the famous spike, the one used by Sars-CoV-2 to enter cells). In this way, a small piece of the virus is produced inside the body, it is recognized as foreign and it causes the immune system to prepare a responseto. MRna is transported in the organism packaged within lipid nanoparticles.

Until last December, when the UK regulatory authorities gave the green light to the first administrations of Covid mRna vaccines, no preparation based on this technology had ever been approved for humans. In the case of influenza, mRna vaccines may target proteins that play the same role as spike, namely theemoagglutinina (Ha o H) e la neuraminidasi (Na or N), the molecules with which influenza viruses enter human cells.

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