Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Moderna’s CEO Svante Paabo (second from right) with the developer Phil Sharp (second from left) and Phil Knight, founder of Nike
A low-dose vaccine for the two most common human diseases – polio and diphtheria – could potentially be available for as little as $100 (£74), claims the drug’s inventor.
Drug developer Moderna Therapeutics said the vaccine had been shown to work in children aged six to 11 years, and to reduce treatment time from 6 to 40 days.
In adults, the vaccine would be similar to current methods, but was not recommended for general use.
Moderna was founded in 2011 by cancer drug pioneer Svante Paabo.
It has raised $4.9bn (£3.8bn) from investors for its clinical-stage programme to develop new vaccine delivery methods.
Currently, over 200 vaccines are used for over 200 diseases, ranging from rheumatoid arthritis to malaria.
Vaccines have to be taken a few days after an infection has occurred to protect the developing immune system.
Moderna’s co-founder Phil Knight said: “The cost of developing and operating a vaccine may account for as much as a half of a company’s annual revenue, which is why there is so much competition.
“Moderna’s vaccine breakthrough opens new potential for new vaccine safety, efficacy and long-term benefits – potentially lowering its cost of care for patients.”
‘Severe side effects’
Moderna’s chief medical officer, Dr. Manuel de la Morena, said the low-dose vaccine for polio and diphtheria caused “severe side effects” in people who had previously had the disease.
However, a phase-three clinical trial has shown the vaccine to be safe for children without a previous illness.
If approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the vaccine would be the first low-dose dose diphtheria vaccine approved in the US.
Diphtheria is a bacterial infection affecting the lungs and is contracted through bacteria that enter the system when the sufferer breathes in.
Dr de la Morena said diphtheria can cause permanent paralysis in young children, in addition to death, but patients with the vaccine had no side effects and could be treated within four days.
The company said diphtheria was the leading cause of death for children aged six to 11 years.