Neutralising antibodies have been found in the first eight people who took part in safety trials for a US experiment on coronavirus antibodies. The experimental mRNA-1273 vaccine works by injecting a small sample of COVID-19’s genetic code into patients.
The amount is enough to encourage a response from the immune system and the trials are expected to be rolled out more widely in the summer.
The drug, being tested by firm Moderna, has produced some promising results so far.
Tal Zaks, chief medical officer at Moderna, said: “These interim Phase 1 data, while early, demonstrate that vaccination with mRNA-1273 elicits an immune response of the magnitude caused by natural infection starting with a dose as low as 25 micrograms.”
He added: “These data substantiate our belief that mRNA-1273 has the potential to prevent Covid-19 disease and advance our ability to select a dose for pivotal trials.”
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The amount is enough to encourage a response from the immune system
The sentiments were echoed by CEO Stephane Bancel.
She added: “With today’s positive interim Phase 1 data and the positive data in the mouse challenge model, the Moderna team continues to focus on moving as fast as safely possible to start our pivotal Phase 3 study in July.”
Professor Robin Shattock, Professor of Mucosal Infection and Immunity, Imperial College London, said the early results were “encouraging”.
He added: “While it will be important to scrutinise the actual data, the reported findings are in line with expectations that vaccine candidates should provide levels of neutralising antibodies that are at least equivalent to convalescent subjects.
Trials are expected to be rolled out more widely in the summer
“This is a promising start, but efficacy data will be key followed by an ability to scale in a manner that provides global access should this vaccine be successful.”
Meanwhile, the UK coronavirus vaccine is also said to be making good progress in its development.
The government recently announced that if a coronavirus vaccine is successful, 30 million doses could be available as soon as September for the UK.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma revealed to the daily briefing that a deal had been confirmed for the commercialisation and manufacturing of the vaccine currently being trialled at Oxford University.
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The drug, being tested by firm Moderna, has produced some promising results so far
The UK coronavirus vaccine is also said to be making good progress in its development
The Government has committed huge sums to developing a vaccine in the UK.
However, Mr Sharma warned there are no certainties: “In spite of the tireless efforts of our scientists, it is possible we may never find a successful coronavirus vaccine.
“So we also need to look at other drug treatments and therapeutics for those who get the virus.”
Professor Peter Openshaw, who is part of the Imperial College London trials, has spoken out about how likely it is that a vaccine could be ready by September.
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He told Sky News: “I think there may well be a vaccine emerging from the pack which is more effective than the others.
“This is team science around the globe, there are many different groups working on different types of vaccine.
“We’re fortunate in the UK to have made long term investments in vaccine and in immunology work.
“This is coming through in terms of having leading candidates being developed in the UK.”
Neutralising antibodies have been found in the first eight people who took part in safety trials for a US experiment on coronavirus antibodies
He continued: “Professor Sarah Gilbert from Oxford has certainly one of the most promising coming out of Oxford.
“So that’s very exciting, but I think until we really get into the human studies and see whether the vaccine is actually preventing people getting sick, we’re a little way off from actually having a vaccine that’s going to prevent disease in countries like our own, let alone for the rest of the world.
“Remember that there are more than seven billion people around the globe who need to be vaccinated to make sure that we can get this disease under control.
“So it’s a huge programme and I do hope it will be good news.”