Astrazeneca, Moderna depict successful results in early-stage trials of mRNA AZD-8601

September 15, 2017


Taking a profound leap ahead with regards to messenger RNA therapies, Astrazeneca, in conjunction with Moderna Therapeutics, has developed a heart drug that has apparently made it through the early stage in clinical trials. The British pharma giant had submitted a clinical trial application to the Biotech unicorn Moderna Therapeutics, in Europe for a mid-stage study of mRNA AZD-8601 – to be used for patients undergoing CABG (coronary artery bypass grafting) surgery.

For the uninitiated, Moderna Therapeutics is one of the many notable unicorns in the healthcare and biotech space, and is renown to be a pioneer in RNA Therapeutics™, a rather novel drug technology that develops human antibodies and proteins within patient cells. The technology has earned a reputation of being one of the most viable alternatives for numerous diseases. Moderna Therapeutics develops drugs based on the messenger RNA, that could potentially offer solutions for many currently hard-to-treat disorders – right from infections to kidney disease and heart disorders to cancer.

The initial phase of the development of this drug was conceived somewhere around 2013, when AstraZeneca invested close to USD 240 million to access Moderna’s biotech know-how with regards to RNA manipulation. Now in 2016, the pharmaceutical market giant has put in a further monetary contribution USD 140 million in Moderna. Currently, Moderna may have liquid assets of close to USD 1 billion.

In a bid to revamp its development structure, Moderna plans to steer the spotlight focus on its R&D domain and unveil its pipeline of advanced messenger RNA therapies for heart disease. The process involves efficaciously dealing with the regeneration of cardio tissue, that has long since been pursued earnestly in stem cell therapy. In this regard, Moderna’s partners at AstraZeneca state that they obtained the required data in the Phase I trials of AZD-8601. Working in tandem with a biomarker at this stage revealed the expression of VEGF-A protein in the skin – a step that further prompted AstraZeneca to move ahead with full steam to the next stage of trials on the messenger RNA, which would involve researching for further proof of messenger RNA’s regenerative capabilities for treating patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting.

The success of the early-stage trials of the mRNA AZD-8601 is a crucial step that marks the commencement of Moderna’s expansion plans with regards to opening up its drug pipeline to the medical fraternity. As for AstraZeneca, this successful clinical trial is a positive indication that the firm has ambitious plans to scale up its drug portfolio, notwithstanding the recent clinical trial failures of its cancer gene therapy. While a significantly long time would be necessary for this quest to attain victory, this trial success is a small leap that would qualify as a major step toward harnessing the power of messenger RNA for complicated diseases.