Moderna (MRNA) reported positive results from a Phase 1 study of its coronavirus vaccine on Monday, prompting MRNA stock to catapult higher.
The biotech tested three dosing regimens of its coronavirus vaccine in healthy adults ages 18-55. Across all three groups, participants began showing began showing antibodies against Covid-19 by day 15 after receiving one dose. The presence of antibodies could indicate immunity.
In one group, patients received two doses of the coronavirus vaccine. At day 43, two weeks after receiving the second dose, the level of antibodies in participants’ blood was similar to levels for patients who already recovered from Covid-19.
A second group received two higher doses of the coronavirus vaccine. At day 43, the antibodies in their blood exceeded that of recovered Covid-19 patients. The third group of patients received a single higher dose. Samples aren’t yet available for those participants.
“These interim Phase 1 data, while early, demonstrate that vaccination with (the vaccine called) mRNA-1273 elicits an immune response of the magnitude caused by natural infection starting with a dose as low as 25 micrograms,” Moderna Chief Scientific Officer Tal Zaks said in a written statement.
MRNA Stock Soars On Coronavirus Vaccine Test
So far, the coronavirus vaccine appears to be generally safe and well tolerated. One patient who received the middle-sized dose showed redness at the injection site. At the highest dose, three patients showed systemic symptoms following the second dose. All four resolved on their own.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also ran a viral challenge test in mice. The virus couldn’t replicate in the lungs of mice who received the coronavirus vaccine. Further, the level of antibodies were in line with the human studies.
Moderna expects to begin a Phase 2 study “shortly.” A Phase 3 test will begin in July.
Representatives of Moderna didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
Vir Advances Two Potential Drugs
Also Monday, Vir Biotechnology (VIR) said it selected two potential coronavirus treatments to send into clinical testing with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Unlike a coronavirus vaccine, a treatment would help patients already sickened by Covid-19.
The company says it discovered an antibody in a patient who recovered from SARS in 2003 that could potentially neutralize SARS-CoV-2 — the new form of coronavirus — and related viruses.
“We believe (the antibody called) S309 likely covers the entire family of related coronaviruses, which suggests that, even as SARS-CoV-2 continues to evolve, it may be quite challenging for it to become resistant t the neutralizing activity of 309,” Vir Chief Scientific Officer Herbert Virgin said in a written statement.
A Phase 2 study will begin this summer, Vir spokeswoman Lindy Devereux said in an email. She noted the companies don’t yet have a timeline on when results will be available.
Vir shares rocketed 32.1% to 40.10. GlaxoSmithKline stock rose 0.9% to 41.28.
Meanwhile, shares of Chembio Diagnostics (CEMI) inched up 0.4% to 12.19 on a distribution deal with Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO). Thermo Fisher will distribute Chembio’s coronavirus test in the U.S.
The test looks for antibodies associated with prior exposure to SARS-CoV-2.
Follow Allison Gatlin on Twitter at @IBD_AGatlin.
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