Moderna starts human studies for mRNA-based influenza vaccine

Widespread vaccinations with “spontaneously” created mRNA vaccines could strongly suppress the flu. (Photo: shisu_ka/

mRNA-1010 is the name of the new vaccine that the US pharmaceutical company is now transferring to testing phase 1/2. Moderna hopes to ultimately develop a super drug against a whole range of pathogens.

Moderna is tackling seasonal flu waves with a new vaccine. 1010 is the company’s first anti-influenza candidate to enter clinical trials. 180 participants are to take up the study. The vaccination targets the lines A H1N1 and H3N2 and influenza B Yamagat and Victoria recommended by the WHO for prevention. The mRNA approach could overcome some challenges in the development and production of flu vaccines.

mRNA is said to be more effective than conventional vaccines

Before the corona pandemic, manufacturers were still largely experimenting with the mRNA method, in which tiny snippets of the virus genome are injected. The cells use the genetic information to build sparring partners for their own immune systems. After the successes against the coronavirus, the pharmaceutical companies are now using the method to use it against other diseases. In the case of the flu, they hope to be more effective. Conventional vaccines only protect against the influenza virus in 40 to 60 percent of cases.

Production of previous vaccinations is expensive

With current methods, the cultivation of the virus strains still takes a long time. The virus is used to multiply in cells and then finally killed so that it is no longer a threat. Companies typically have to start manufacturing six months before the vaccination season. You are relying on predictions of which strains will circulate this year. The mRNA variants are faster to create and produce, so vaccine designers can better tailor them to the types of flu that are likely to spread. The less time goes by, the more accurately the predictions are true. In addition to Moderna, Sanofi / Translate Bio and Biontech / Pfizer are also working on mRNA flu vaccinations.

Combination vaccines against all respiratory diseases

In the next step, Moderna envisions a much wider range of diseases that a drug could protect against. “Our vision is to develop an mRNA combination vaccine so that people can receive highly effective protection against the most problematic respiratory viruses with a single vaccination in the fall,” explains CEO Stéphane Bancel in the press release. By this he means a single vaccination that protects against Covid, flu and other respiratory infections at the same time. After the approval of the corona vaccine, the studies for mRNA-1010 represent an important building block for this.

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Parallel stand by Moderna more vaccines in the starting blocks, for example phase 2 studies for a vaccination against the cytomegalovirus from the herpes virus family. Vaccines against the pathogens Zika virus and Chikungunya virus, which are spread by mosquitoes, are also on the way to stage 2. Even vaccines against certain types of cancer are in clinical trials. In the area of ​​intratumoral therapy, a drug against ovarian cancer is currently going through the second approval phase.

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