Moderna Covid-19 vaccine is prepared for administration prior to the free distribution of over-the-counter rapid Covid-19 test kits to people receiving their vaccines or boosters at Union Station in Los Angeles, California on January 7, 2022.
Frederick J Brown | AFP | Getty Images
Moderna hopes to offer a new set of life-saving vaccines targeting cancer, heart disease and other conditions by 2030, a company spokesperson told CNBC Monday.
The spokesperson confirmed comments made by Moderna’s chief medical officer, Dr Paul Burton, to the Guardian on Saturday. He’s confident those punches will be ready by the end of the decade, Burton said, adding that Moderna could deliver them in as little as five years.
He noted that developments in messenger RNA, or mRNA, technology since the beginning of the Covid pandemic have heralded a golden age for new injections.
“I think what we’ve learned in recent months is that if you thought mRNA was only for infectious diseases, or only for Covid, the evidence now is that’s not the case at all,” Burton told the Guardian. “It can be applied to all kinds of diseases; we’re into cancer, infectious diseases, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, and rare diseases.”
He added that studies conducted on injecting these diseased areas showed “very promising results”.
Burton’s comments come as Moderna is going through a post-pandemic boom driven by its mRNA Covid vaccine. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company has become a household name for its RNA technology, which teaches human cells to produce a protein that initiates an immune response against a specific disease.
Burton’s comments also come ahead of Moderna’s vaccine day on Tuesday. At the annual event, the company usually gives updates on vaccine development.
He highlighted Modern’s cancer vaccine, a highly anticipated mRNA injection being developed to target different types of tumors. Burton told the Guardian that the vaccine would be “extremely effective” and “save hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives”.
In February, the Food and Drug Administration granted a breakthrough treatment designation for a cancer vaccine intended for our suppliers in combination with Merck’s immunotherapy drug Keytruda for patients with a potentially fatal type of skin cancer called melanoma. This designation is intended to accelerate the development and review of drugs for serious or life-threatening conditions.
The FDA’s decision came two months after Moderna highlighted a phase II clinical trial that showed a vaccine with Keytruda reduced skin cancer recurrences by 44%.
Burton also stressed the potential of mRNA to treat rare diseases for which there are no treatments yet. He said mRNA therapies could be available a decade from now.
“I think we’re going to have mRNA-based therapies for rare, previously insurmountable diseases, and I think 10 years from now, we’ll be close to a world where you can identify the genetic cause of disease and, with relative simplicity, go tweak that and fix it with technology based on mRNA.”
Among these diseases is the respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. Moderna is among the few drugmakers racing to release the world’s first vaccine against the deadly virus, which infects the lungs and respiratory tract and usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms.
The virus kills 6,000 to 10,000 elderly people and a few hundred children under the age of five each year.
Like a cancer vaccine, a potential RSV vaccine for adults 60 and older received Breakthrough Treatment designation from the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year. The designation was based on positive preliminary data from Moderna’s Phase 3 clinical trial of the vaccine.
Moderna’s vaccine was 83.7% effective in preventing respiratory syncytial virus with two or more symptoms in people age 60 or older, and 82.4% effective in preventing lower respiratory disease with three or more symptoms. No safety concerns were identified during the trial, and the company said it intends to publish the full data set and share the results during an upcoming medical conference.