CASE STUDIES

CMV: Moderna Vaccine

Moderna’s forthcoming vaccine for cytomegalovirus (CMV) leverages relatively new RNA technology to neutralize the virus and prevent a potential infection in cases of exposure. Although clinical trials for the vaccine were delayed amid the pandemic, Moderna as well as industry experts appear optimistic about its potential, potential among women of childbearing age.

Vaccine Overview

  • Moderna’s anticipated vaccine for CMV is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, which is a relatively new but not untested form of technology.
  • Notably, RNA (mRNA) vaccines will be used for the first time in a mass immunization program to combat COVID-19.
  • At a high level, the company’s RNA vaccine triggers a human’s immune system to produce antibodies for CMV, and thereby helps neutralize the virus and prevent a potential infection in the event a person is exposed in the future.
  • In particular, Moderna’s vaccine “combines six mRNAs (five encoding for the pentamer complex and one encoding for gB) together into one vial” to combat the virus, per the company’s website.
  • As of the company’s latest March 2020 press release, Moderna reported several points of progress related to its CMV clinical trials, including:
    • Successful completion of its Phase 1 seven-month interim safety trial.
    • Targeting the third quarter of 2020 to report results from the first interim analysis of its Phase 2 dose-confirmation trial.
    • Expected to start the Phase 3 dose selection trial in 2021, while completing associated manufacturing and planning in 2020.
  • However, as of the end of March 2020, Moderna stated that its CMV trials had been interrupted indefinitely due to the pandemic.
  • Notably, commentary by Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel this past November 30, 2020 confirmed that its CMV vaccine remained in Phase 2 clinical trials, but also indicated that Phase 3 testing might still start in 2021.
  • Meanwhile, an extensive review of Moderna’s owned media (e.g., press releases), industry trades (e.g., Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) and other credible sources (e.g., SEC archives) indicates that the company has no partners that are specific to its CMV vaccine development.
  • However, Moderna continues to rely on financial backers (e.g., EDBI, BB Biotech, Julius Baer, Sequoia Capital China) as well as its clinical trial partners to support CMV trials alongside other treatments in development at the company.

Moderna Commentary

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