The first participants in a Phase 1 clinical study to investigate the safety, tolerability, and immunogenicity of a single dose quadrivalent mRNA vaccine against influenza in healthy people have been dosed, according to Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE). Pfizer’s mRNA influenza vaccine is the first of a series of influenza vaccines that will use mRNA technology. Beyond influenza, the business aims to investigate mRNA in additional respiratory viruses, including medically acceptable vaccine combinations that might give protection against several respiratory viruses, as well as expand mRNA technology development into cancer and genetic disorders.
“Since 2018, we have been working to develop a potential mRNA influenza vaccine, driven by our deep understanding of infectious diseases and our extensive experience in researching, developing and implementing new vaccine technologies to help prevent them,” said Kathrin U. Jansen, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Head of Vaccine Research & Development at Pfizer. “The COVID-19 pandemic allowed us to deliver on the immense scientific opportunity of mRNA. Influenza remains an area where we see a need for vaccines which could result in improved efficacy in any given season, and we believe mRNA is the ideal technology to take on this challenge to transform global health outcomes.”
Seasonal influenza vaccines are typically manufactured by growing the virus in chicken eggs or mammalian cells, then inactivating and processing it to make a vaccine. Producing immunogenic antigens, keeping up with viral strain changes, and modifications in vaccine antigens throughout manufacturing are all problems that this method encounters. Because circulating influenza strains are constantly changing, global health experts have a difficult time predicting the best match for the next season’s vaccine because those strains are chosen more than six months before the start of the influenza season that they target in the Northern Hemisphere.
Considerably when vaccine strains closely match circulating influenza virus strains, current seasonal vaccinations usually provide 40 to 60% protection against circulating strains, with even lower protection in years where strain matching is poor. Every year, influenza causes around 5 million instances of severe illness and up to 650,000 fatalities across the world.
The genetic sequence of the virus is all that is needed to create an mRNA-based influenza vaccine. The versatility of mRNA technology and its quick production might allow for better strain matching, improved supply dependability, and the possibility to increase the performance of existing flu vaccinations.
mRNA-based influenza vaccine design requires only the genetic sequence of the virus. The flexibility of mRNA technology and its rapid manufacturing could potentially allow better strain match, greater reliability of supply, and the potential opportunity to improve upon the efficacy of current flu vaccines. Furthermore, in a pandemic influenza situation, mRNA technology could allow rapid, large-scale manufacturing of effective vaccines.