Rensselaer facility on the front lines of coronavirus vaccine research

Rensselaer facility on the front lines of coronavirus vaccine research

Rensselaer facility on the front lines of coronavirus vaccine research

Early data on a coronavirus vaccine candidate is encouraging, but there's still "a lot of work" to be done, the former commissioner of the FDA says. He explained his reasoning in a 78-page slide deck he sent to clients.

The first human trials of a Covid-19 experimental vaccine has offered a glimmer of hope after the test subjects were able to stimulate an immune response against the infection, the manufacturer, Moderna, announced on Monday, May 18. But the researchers also gathered data on "neutralizing" antibodies, or those that can block infection, from eight of the participants (data for the remaining participants is also not yet available).

While Moderna blitzed the media, it revealed very little information - and most of what it did disclose were words, not data.

Only eight of the 25 volunteers receiving the lower doses were able to participate in follow-up antibody testing because of the length of time it required.

But the levels of neutralizing antibodies were "at or above" convalescent serum.

"The market is keen on health-care news much more than it is on economic data", said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in NY.

The fear would be that the coronavirus could mutate each year, like the flu, where companies need to manufacture a new vaccine each time.

A view of Moderna headquarters in Cambridge, Mass., earlier this month. Problem is, "if you capture it late, your benchmark is setting up an easier [comparison]", Raffat said in his report to investors. The kind of detailed antibody results needed to assess responses are only available on eight volunteers so far.

"Those in the 100 microgram had antibodies that "significantly exceeded levels" in recovered patients".

Another question that Moderna didn't answer was whether or not mRNA-1273 generated a "T-cell response"-an indicator that the immune system is attacking COVID-19-Raffat said". That's important: If you ask scientists to read a journal article, they will scour data tables, not corporate statements. This type of vaccine is meant to give a patient's cells a metaphorical building manual to create the "spike" on the coronavirus, which would manufacture an antibody response similar to what happens when one is naturally infected with the virus. Moderna is one of seven companies conducting human trials and the first in the United States to start doing so, on March 16. A story by Helen Branswell in STAT, which quoted other experts who found Moderna's data insufficient, was blamed for driving down Moderna's stock by 10 percent by the end of trading on Tuesday - and the stock market fell with it. Only one suffered from redness around the injection site. "We don't know if those antibodies are durable". Especially since it hasn't been well studied and we've not sure if patients can get reinfected.

Moderna's is one of about a dozen COVID-19 vaccine candidates that have begun studies in humans. An MRNA vaccine uses viral genetic material - RNA - to produce the antigens that would allow the body to learn to respond to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

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