Modern (MRNA 1.74% ) and AstraZeneca (AZN -1.02% ) compete in some markets with their respective COVID-19 vaccines. However, the two companies are also partners. They recently reported the results of a phase 2 study of a messenger RNA (mRNA) heart failure drug. In this Motley Fool Live video registered on November 16, 2021Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli discuss whether Moderna and AstraZeneca’s mRNA candidate could be a winner.
Keith Speights: There is more news for Moderna. The company, along with its partner, AstraZeneca, recently announced good news of a Phase 2 study of a messenger RNA drug targeting heart failure.
Brian, what do you think of these results? Do you think these companies have a good chance of ultimately getting approval and commercial success with this mRNA heart failure drug?
Brian Orelli: The drug is called AZD-8601. As you can see by the code name, this is quite early in development. It is an mRNA which is injected into the myocardium, it is the muscle responsible for pumping the patient’s heart. It has been administered to patients undergoing elective coronary bypass surgery.
The idea here is that you want to express this protein by three mRNAs and this will enhance the pumping of the patient’s heart. The clinical trial was mainly focused on safety, so they showed the procedure to be safe, but it measured other secondary measures.
They measured the left ventricular ejection fraction, which is a measure of heart function. They looked at a biomarker called NT-proBNP, and it’s a hormone. It is elevated in patients with heart failure. They were waiting for it to drop. They saw trends that favored the drug, but there are only seven patients who received the drug and four who received a placebo, so it’s hard to draw any conclusions.
The other problem here is that patients and their doctors and the FDA are going to care a lot more about outcomes like heart attacks, strokes, and death than they care about the heart pumping better or the pain. drop of a bio-marker. These clinical trials take a lot longer because you have to wait for someone to have a heart attack, stroke, or die.
I think investors, especially in Moderna, should expect it to take a long time, that their internal pipeline, I think AstraZeneca is in charge of gaining more of this drug through clinical development. I think Moderna’s internal vaccine pipeline is likely to go through clinical development faster than AZD-8601, although it may be a bit further along, at this point I think the development timeline is clinic is going to be long enough for this medication.
Speights: Yes. Above all, we are talking about a drug here, not a vaccine. Moderna has always said that if her messenger RNA approach works in one disease, it really has a lot of potential to treat many other diseases.
Do you think these results reinforce the fact that Moderna’s mRNA platform could really target a lot more diseases than some of the viruses out there?
Orelli: Yes. I think the problem is that he probably only speaks for a short time. It works well when you’re just trying to boost the immune system, start attacking things that you don’t need that much protein to be expressed. It might be difficult to do enzyme replacement therapy where you put the protein in the patient because you would have to be expressing it constantly, you would have to constantly inject yourself.
That we’ll have to wait and see how long it takes between if you get an expression high enough that you would and how long that expression would be the keys there.
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