Moderna says its mRNA Access program could help with the next pandemic

Moderna’s mRNA Access program (Nasdaq: MRNA) enables researchers to use its mRNA technology platform for research projects related to emerging and neglected infectious diseases.

“It takes a community of scientists and disease experts to develop novel vaccines to tackle our greatest public health threats,” said Hamilton Bennett, Moderna’s senior director, vaccine access and partnerships.

“mRNA Access was born of the idea that we are stewards of our platform, and by allowing researchers to access that platform, and leverage the preclinical, clinical, regulatory and manufacturing capabilities that we’ve created, we could accelerate the development of novel vaccines,” Bennett said.

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Moderna says its mRNA Access program could help with the next pandemic

Moderna’s mRNA Access program (Nasdaq: MRNA) enables researchers to use its mRNA technology platform for research projects related to emerging and neglected infectious diseases.

“It takes a community of scientists and disease experts to develop novel vaccines to tackle our greatest public health threats,” said Hamilton Bennett, Moderna’s senior director, vaccine access and partnerships.

“mRNA Access was born of the idea that we are stewards of our platform, and by allowing researchers to access that platform, and leverage the preclinical, clinical, regulatory and manufacturing capabilities that we’ve created, we could accelerate the development of novel vaccines,” Bennett said.

To prepare for future pandemics, the company is keeping tabs on known and emerging pathogens that pose a considerable risk with the potential for devastating impact on lives around the globe.

Before the pandemic, Moderna had mRNA de…

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The transformation of precision medicine in infectious disease

Phage image courtesy of Locus Biosciences

Before Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, another more selective antibacterial agent rose to popularity in the early 1900s: bacteriophage.

In 1917, microbiologist Felix d’Herelle was tasked with identifying the cause of a dysentery outbreak impacting French troops. From his research, he noticed that Shigella bacteria was the primary culprit of this affliction. He then discovered an invisible microorganism that targeted and eliminated the dysentery bacillus, or rod-shaped bacteria, which he eventually named ‘bacteriophage’ (also known by the shorthand ‘phage’) for its supposed bacteria-eating capabilities. D’Herelle would later apply this knowledge to successfully treat children suffering from severe dysentery at the Hospital des Enfants Malades in Paris and create cures for other pathogens like cholera and typhoid. Encouraged by d’Herelle’s contributions and si…

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Study: The COVID-19 pandemic resulted from incremental shifts in bat virus

Smithers’ horseshoe bat is a relative of the bat that likely gave rise to the pandemic. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

When a virus jumps from one host to another, it usually acquires new capabilities to target cells beforehand.

But the SARS-CoV-2 virus seems to have needed little prior adaptation before causing a pandemic, according to a recent study in PLOS Biology.

The genus betacoronavirus to which SARS-CoV-2 belongs is notorious for its threat of jumping from animals to humans. Indeed, the genus is responsible for several outbreaks in the past two decades, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and, more recently, COVID-19.

The PLOS Biology study concluded that the nearest viral ancestor to SARS-CoV-2 is RmYN02, which evolved in bats. The ancestor virus of SARS-CoV-2 was likely a “relatively generalist virus” that was cap…

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As COVID-19 threats become endemic, a potential silver lining for pharma

[Image courtesy of Wikipedia]

Reality is beginning to sink in. Despite the availability of a growing number of COVID-19 vaccines and other therapies, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is likely to become endemic in the medium term, if not longer.

A handful of coronaviruses — among them strains of NL63, OC43, 229E and HKU1 — are already endemic.

For drug developers, an endemic SARS-CoV-2 could have significant implications. While effective COVID-19 vaccines will likely enable developed nations to roll back coronavirus-related restrictions, demand for new COVID-19 treatments and vaccines could remain elevated for years.

More than 300 COVID-19 therapies are now in development. This year alone, Moderna (NSDQ:MRNA) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) could rake in $32 billion in COVID-19 vaccine sales, according to Morgan Stanley.

The pandemic has already changed many people’s view of the pharmaceutical industry, accord…

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