The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office has announced an $8.2 million contract award to Moderna Therapeutics of Cambridge, MA, to help speed the development of a novel vaccine to prevent the spread of the Zika virus.
Moderna’s vaccine will use messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccine technology. Messenger RNA is a molecule that carries specific genetic codes to parts of the cell. This type of vaccine uses messenger RNA containing the genetic sequence of the Zika virus to generate an immune response in people.
Producing vaccine from this type of technology is rapid compared to other vaccine technologies that require the growth and purification of a weakened or inactivated (killed) virus. Moderna is designing its mRNA vaccine to be easy to administer without any specialized delivery devices
Under the initial 4-year agreement, BARDA will support a Phase 1 clinical trial, toxicology studies, vaccine formulation, and manufacturing. If additional funding is identified the agreement could be extended up to a total of five years and a total of $125.5 million to support Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials, as well as large scale manufacturing. All of this work is required for the company to apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for vaccine licensure.
You can read more about this plan by clicking here.