In October 2023 CEPI and Moderna announced a strategic partnership to “harness Moderna’s mRNA platform” for vaccine development. The work within this partnership is expected to “expand the infectious disease targets” for the vaccine technology and support the efforts of the 100 Days Mission.
“mRNA technology has been identified as a pivotal enabler of the 100 Days Mission due to its flexibility as a rapid-response platform on which new vaccine candidates can be designed and quickly made ready for clinical testing and subsequent scale-up.”
After the success of Moderna’s “leading” platform during the COVID-19 pandemic, hopes are high for other applications.
An initial project
The organisations state that the partnership will “kick off” with an initial project to evaluate the performance of novel AI-generated antigen designs and mRNA technology “against a range of viral families”. CEPI-funded vaccine researchers will share designs with Moderna’s teams, who will “rapidly” manufacture the related vaccine candidates for preclinical testing, funded by CEPI.
CEPI reports that this project will enable researchers to “swiftly test” multiple antigen designs for a specific viral family. They can then identify any that are promising. Additionally, data will be generated on the performance of the technology against selected viral families, allowing researchers to assess the “suitability and effectiveness” of mRNA for different targets.
“CEPI and Moderna will discuss additional vaccine development projects which fall under the remit of this strategic partnership, with further announcements to follow in due course.”
Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI, commented that “future outbreaks are inevitable, but another pandemic is not”.
“Thanks to the scientific and technological innovations advanced during COVID-19, the world now has the tools and capabilities to prevent the next outbreak from spiralling into a global catastrophe.”
One such technology is mRNA, a “proven” vaccine technology. Not only does the platform facilitate the development of “safe and effective vaccines”, but they can be “rapidly manufactured at scale”.
“Our partnership with Moderna will harness the company’s clinically validated mRNA platform and its world-leading team of scientists to help prepare to respond to future epidemic and pandemic threats in as little as 100 days.”
Moderna’s CEO, Stéphane Bancel, is “pleased” to announce the partnership, which will use the “power” of the platform to “accelerate the development of mRNA vaccines”.
“Our mRNA Access programme reinforces our dedication to public health by offering researchers the opportunity to utilise our mRNA technology in the development of vaccines for emerging and neglected infectious diseases.”
Bancel believes the programme can play a “key role” in “helping the next generation of researchers and engineers to advance mRNA science”.
Moderna’s mRNA Access programme is a means of opening production capabilities and development expertise to partners so that “together” they can explore the “possibility of mRNA”.
“Our mission is to accelerate innovation and enable new vaccines and medicines for emerging and neglected infectious diseases through collaborative research and pre-clinical development.”