moderna is a biotech firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts
… Moderna joins forces with BARDA …

Moderna and BARDA Sign COVID-19 Vaccine Development Contract

Moderna is deploying its mRNA expertise to immunization development

John G. Baresky

Washington has signed on another biotech firm to help find a vaccine solution to COVID-19. Moderna and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) have entered into an agreement to accelerate the development of an immunization for COVID-19. BARDA is a unit of the Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

Moderna launched a clinical trial in March 2020 to evaluate its COVID-19 vaccine. Patients administered the vaccine candidate are rigorously monitored. If the outcomes of the clinical trial are satisfactory, Moderna will submit its data and results to the FDA for review and potential approval.

Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts Moderna has established a highly specialized niche for itself in the biotech community. Their research and product commercialization focus is centered on messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) sciences and solutions. Human cells use mRNA to direct the creation of proteins necessary to sustain biological functions within people including those actions that thwart disease.

Messenger RNA (mRNA) is a single-stranded RNA molecule that is complementary to a single DNA strand in a gene. An mRNA is an RNA form of the gene that exits the cell nucleus and travels to the cytoplasm where proteins are produced. Throughout protein synthesis, an organelle defined as a ribosome travels along the mRNA, scans its base sequence then uses the genetic code to decipher each three-base triplet (“codon”) into its matching amino acid.

As a company with approximately 700 associates (and growing), Moderna has an exciting variety of products in development. The therapeutic categories it is investigating include cardiology, immune disorders and oncology. These are some of the immunization products in Moderna’s pipeline:

  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
  • hMPV/PIV3
  • KRAS (pancreatic cancer immunization)
  • Influenza H7N9
  • PCV (personalized cancer vaccine)
  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
  • SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)
  • Zika vaccine

The COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted the importance of preventative healthcare and vaccine research into global prominence. It is clinically important to have multiple vaccine producers to be assured product is widely available and shortages are avoided if a vaccine manufacturer has production problems. The clinical trial results of Moderna’s COVID-19 candidate are highly anticipated. If results are good and the FDA approves their vaccine, Moderna’s clinical and commercial future will be extraordinarily rewarding for them plus patients and clinicians.

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