Press Release, April 16, 2020;
Moderna Announces Award from U.S. Government Agency BARDA for up to $483 Million to Accelerate Development of mRNA Vaccine (mRNA-1273) Against Novel Coronavirus
Moderna, Inc., a clinical stage biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines to create a new generation of transformative medicines for patients, today announced an agreement for a commitment of up to $483 million from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a division of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to accelerate development of the Company’s mRNA vaccine candidate (mRNA-1273) against the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).
Under the terms of the agreement, BARDA will fund the advancement of mRNA-1273 to FDA licensure. A Phase 1 study of mRNA-1273 is being conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Phase 1 open-label study, which began on March 16, 2020 has completed enrollment of the original study: 45 healthy adult volunteers ages 18 to 55 years in three dose cohorts (25 µg, 100 µg and 250 µg). The NIH recently amended the Phase 1 protocol to include an additional six cohorts: three cohorts of older adults (ages 56 -70) and three cohorts of elderly adults (age 71 and above). Enrollment for these cohorts is ongoing.
If supported by safety data from the Phase 1 study, the Company intends to begin a Phase 2 study of mRNA-1273 under its own Investigational New Drug (IND) application in the second quarter of 2020. Subject to data from these studies and discussions with regulators, a Phase 3 study could begin as soon as fall, 2020. BARDA funding will support these late-stage clinical development programs, as well as the scale-up of mRNA-1273 manufacture in 2020 to enable potential pandemic response.
To support the scale-up, Moderna plans to hire up to 150 new team members in the U.S. this year. This includes a significant increase in its skilled manufacturing staff to expand manufacturing capacity from two shifts per day, 5 days per week to three shifts per day, 7 days per week, engineers to manage process scale-up, and clinical and regulatory staff to support clinical development.
“We are thankful for BARDA’s support to fund the accelerated development of mRNA-1273, our vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2,” said Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s Chief Executive Officer. “Time is of the essence to provide a vaccine against this pandemic virus. By investing now in our manufacturing process scale-up to enable large scale production for pandemic response, we believe that we would be able to supply millions of doses per month in 2020 and with further investments, tens of millions per month in 2021, if the vaccine candidate is successful in the clinic.”
“Vaccines are a critical tool for saving lives and stopping the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” said BARDA Director Rick Bright, Ph.D. “Delivering a safe and effective vaccine for a rapidly spreading virus requires accelerated action. BARDA’s goal is to have vaccine available as quickly as possible and preparing now for advanced stage clinical trials and production scale-up while the Phase 1 is underway could shave months off development of COVID-19 vaccines.”
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