Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine (mRNA-1273) is one of the handfuls that has received the WHO's approval so far. The vaccine is rooted in the company's pioneering mRNA (messenger RNA) platform. On Thursday, the US-based biotechnology firm announced promising pre-clinical data and stated that they have managed to successfully put together a single shot against three respiratory diseases—COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and the flu.

In a social media post, Moderna said that it was able to combine 6 different mRNAs—one strain of COVID-19 and RSV each, and four strains of flu. Also, in another statement, the vaccine maker disclosed that it is developing a new vaccine that will be a combination of a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot and a flu shot. It also reported that candidates for a crucial cancer vaccine trial have been fully recruited.

"Today we are announcing the first step in our novel respiratory vaccine program with the development of a single-dose vaccine that combines a booster against COVID-19 and a booster against flu. We are making progress on enrolling patients in our rare disease programs, and we are fully enrolled in our personalized cancer vaccine trial," said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer, Moderna, in the statement.

Tackling Multiple Respiratory Infections

According to the tweet, the combination vaccine was able to induce strong antibody responses in mice against all the constituents. In an accompanying statement released on its website on the company's 2021 R&D Day (9 September 2021), Moderna announced that several vaccines leveraging its mRNA advances are in the pipeline.

This includes a combination pediatric inoculation candidate that integrates Moderna's RSV vaccine with its hMPV (Human metapneumovirus) vaccine contender, and a vaccine against Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), among others. It comes as good news as several of the company's vaccines utilizing its advanced mRNA research has been yielding promising results.

Vaccine (Representational Picture)Flick/ Asian Development Bank

"We believe our mRNA platform can solve the world's greatest health challenges, from diseases impacting millions, to ultra-rare diseases impacting dozens, to medicines personalized down to the individual level," averred Bancel.

Moderna's quadrivalent seasonal Flu candidate (mRNA-1010)—which includes A H1N1, H3N2, and influenza B Yamagata and Victoria lineages—is already in the clinic and preparations for Phase 2/3 study are underway. Its RSV vaccine (mRNA-1345) showed positive Phase 1 results (from older adult cohort between ages 65-79 years of age), and a global Phase 2/3 study comprising of nearly 34,000 participants may begin by the end of 2021.

Several Vaccines In the Pipeline

The Cambridge-headquartered pharmaceutical company also notified on social media and its R&D Day presentation that 11 respiratory vaccine programs are in the clinic at different stages of trials. This includes vaccines against newer strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus such as the Beta variant, Delta, Variant, and against combinations of these variants.

With COVID-19 taking the front seat for over 20 months, vaccine development aimed at other diseases has taken a back seat. However, Moderna reported that vaccines against other devastating diseases—Nipah, HIV, and Zika, among others—are in pre-clinical development.

The fully enrolled Phase 2 randomized, placebo-controlled study of personalized cancer vaccine (PCV) (mRNA-4157) is being conducted in collaboration with Germany-based Merck. It will analyze the vaccine's combination with pembrolizumab—compared to the drug alone –as an adjuvant treatment for high-risk resected melanoma.