DGAP-News: BB BIOTECH AG / Key word(s): Market Report
Media release of December 16, 2020
Moderna and its COVID-19 vaccine are representative of the innovative power of the entire biotech industry
Less than 11 months after the SARS-CoV-2 genome was decoded, the first two vaccine candidates that could help to bring the global coronavirus pandemic under control had already been submitted to regulatory authorities for approval. "The mRNA technology used by Moderna is a good example of how innovative technologies developed and applied in the labs of biotech companies are driving medical progress," explains Dr. Daniel Koller, Head of BB Biotech's Investment Team.
mRNA technology - preferred method for future vaccine development
An independent advisory board of the US FDA will convene on December 17. The FDA will decide whether to approve the vaccine 24 to 72 hours after the board's recommendation is announced. Moderna will market the product on its own. The company has set up a logistics infrastructure that will allow international dispatch to commence within 24 hours of approval. US approval is expected to be granted before the end of 2020. EU regulators are expected to announce their approval decision in the second week of January. The COVID-19 vaccine will be produced by the Swiss company Lonza. Up to 20 million doses could be produced in the final weeks of 2020 and one billion doses in 2021.
Given all the advantages mRNA offers, Bancel is sure it will establish itself as the technology of choice for vaccine development once the first product has been approved. The higher probability of response will be a crucial factor here, Bancel believes. Because human mRNA has the same chemical structure in all molecules, and mRNA-based drugs differ only in the coded genetic information they contain, mRNA platforms can be used to develop a variety of drugs in shorter periods of time. In the case of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, Moderna took just a few days to select the sequence for the vaccine from the virus's gene sequence. Another bonus of the mRNA mechanism is that all vaccines are packaged in the same molecular envelopes, which makes it easier to produce large volumes. Moreover, unlike the rival Biontech/Pfizer product, the vaccine can be stored for a period of up to six months at minus 20 degrees Celsius, 30 days at refrigerator temperatures of six to eight degrees, and six hours at room temperature.
Through its investment in robotics, IT and production processes, Moderna has, in the words of Bancel, created the conditions for scaling up all clinical products that the biotech company brings to the market in the future. Management had initially planned to reach this milestone in 2023 but that time frame was shortened by three years thanks to the development and government funding of its COVID-19 vaccine program. Moderna currently has 13 products in clinical testing, six of which are cancer vaccines and seven infectious disease vaccines. BB Biotech first invested in Moderna in 2018, before the company even went public.
On-screen molecule design
CRISPR fixes genetic defects for good
BB Biotech has been invested in CRISPR Therapeutics since the first quarter of 2019. The company is pursuing two clinical trials in beta thalassemia and sickle cell anemia in cooperation with Vertex Pharma, a core position in BB Biotech's portfolio. Both diseases are inherited genetic disorders that result in the defective formation of blood cells with severe progression. The genetically modified stem cells that were administered back to the patients led to a complete cure. In addition to these two clinical trials, CRISPR Therapeutics is pursuing three cell-based projects in immuno-oncology on its own.
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16.12.2020 Dissemination of a Corporate News, transmitted by DGAP - a service of EQS Group AG.
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