Moderna is touting results from a new pediatric study for a treatment that could revolutionize the treatment of leukemia. The company announced on Thursday that COVID-19, its vaccine that combines cellular immunotherapy with immune checkpoints, showed a decrease in leukemic activity and a stable immune response in treatment-naive children aged 6-11. However, the results from the trial are still being finalized and are not yet ready for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. A previous study showed that in leukemic children, the vaccine lowered the risk of relapse and delayed an increase in risk by over five years.
The lower-dose immunization was found to be more efficacious, with the authors suggesting the need for future trials. Because these findings are still preliminary, Moderna is not claiming to have a cure for leukemias; however, the fact that treatment was deemed safe in children of all ages and maintaining “a healthy immune response” may be a huge breakthrough. Leukemia is a type of blood cancer, and the company hopes to include human trials in the future to further investigate its safety and efficacy. “We are looking at multiple large indications and disease areas for potential incorporation of this technology into existing therapeutic regimens and we are on track to meet our 2019 commercial launch objectives,” said Moderna founder Dr. Henri Termeer.
Moderna is a life sciences company that has its roots in the lab of Nobel laureate Craig Mello at MIT. Moderna’s technology uses modern immunotherapy — or immunotherapy as it is popularly known — to harness the body’s immune system to fight disease and bacteria that may go undetected by the immune system and immune checkpoints. Moderna is testing its own vaccine targeting HIV, but the company faces competition from the likes of GlaxoSmithKline, who developed their own treatment for HIV called SVR (Sustained virologic response). Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel believes that his company has a competitive advantage: “With certain outlier medical disorders, we aim to develop products that are ready for the market before our competitors.”
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