Massachusetts: A vaccine for coronavirus (COVID-19) developed by Moderna Therapeutics will be ready for human testing as early as April.
According to a report in Time, Moderna Therapeutics, a bio-tech company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has shipped the first batches of its COVID-19 vaccine.
The vaccine was created just 42 days after the genetic sequence of the COVID-19 virus, called SARS-CoV-2, was released by Chinese researchers in mid-January. The first vials of the vaccine were sent to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, which will ready the vaccine for human testing as early as April.
According to the report in Time, NIH scientists also began testing an anti-viral drug called Remdesivir that had been developed for Ebola, on a patient infected with SARS-CoV-2.
The trial is the first to test a drug for treating COVID-19, and will be led by a team at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre. The first patient to volunteer for the study is a passenger who was brought back to the US after testing positive for the disease aboard the Diamond Princess.
Other patients diagnosed with COVID-19 who have been hospitalised will also be part of the study.
Remdesivir showed encouraging results among animals infected with two related coronaviruses, one responsible for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and another for causing Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
Even if the drug shows some efficacy in keeping blood levels of SARS-CoV-2 from growing, it could help to contain the spread of the infection.
The report said the Moderna vaccine against COVID-19 was developed in record time because it's based on a relatively new genetic method that does not require growing huge amounts of virus.
Instead, the vaccine is packed with mRNA, the genetic material that comes from DNA and makes proteins. The vaccine is loaded with mRNA that codes for the right coronavirus proteins which then get injected into the body. Immune cells in the lymph nodes can process that mRNA and start making the protein in just the right way for other immune cells to recognize and mark them for destruction.