(CNN) — Moderna Therapeutics, a biotech company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, announced Monday that the first Phase 1 study of a low-dose vaccine for two highly contagious diseases — meningitis and influenza — “is safe and appears to be well tolerated by infants, children and adolescents.”
Meningitis is caused by bacteria and can lead to inflammation in the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord. Influenza is a contagious and potentially deadly virus.
The Phase 1 clinical trial — known as the COPV-1901 IND (Investigational New Drug) study — was conducted at the nonprofit Carlsbad, California-based company’s affiliate facility.
In February, a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine panel recommended the next step for Moderna is a Phase 2 study, which would test whether the vaccine prevents serious illness in healthy adults ages 18 to 50. It would also test whether the vaccine is safe in young children or adolescents.
“Before enrolling adult patients in our first Phase 2 study, we first must show that the vaccine is safe and appears to work in people who are between 12 and 49,” Moderna Therapeutics CEO Stephane Bancel said in a press release.
Moderna also provides the vaccine to governmental agencies to test in patients who have experimental treatments for rare, chronic diseases.
In its recent announcement, Moderna stated that COPV-1901 is a key component of its wearable delivery system (the drug is injected into the thigh) that looks like a cartridge, and holds a small vaccine particle.
The system has a pharmacodynamic profile that allows the vaccine to be delivered in a small amount to parts of the body where it’s most active, such as the thigh.
Moderna Therapeutics designed the technology as a wearable delivery system for a virus, which replaces older methods, including sutures and injection sites, that are particularly susceptible to blood-borne microorganisms.
Recent studies have found that vaccines for meningitis and influenza may even be made by the same gene or in a manufacturing process that’s the same, Moderna said. And this technology can deliver vaccines to far more places, such as children’s legs.
“We expect our technology will be able to deliver vaccines for broad ranges of respiratory and intestinal infectious diseases into patients of all ages and will mean the potential for a large number of vaccines to be available for a broad range of conditions at a fraction of the cost currently demanded by biopharmaceutical companies,” Bancel said.