The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) announced a new partnership with Arcturus Therapeutics Holdings, Inc. this week, which seeks to create a self-amplifying messenger RNA (samRNA) vaccine for use against pandemic influenza.
This, the partners believe, would allow for a more rapid response to pandemic flu situations. The vaccine itself would be based on the company’s platform technology. Support from BARDA would include non-clinical efficacy studies and pre-clinical development, early-stage clinical development, drug product manufacturing, and all associated regulatory and quality assurance activities.
SamRNA would allow many copies of the viral protein within a cell, so users could take lower doses than conventional mRNA vaccines. By applying new technologies to develop and tapping them for seasonal and pandemic flu vaccine development, BARDA sees a means to aid domestic vaccine manufacturing during surge capacity needs, particularly given the speed they could allow – much quicker deployment than egg and cell-based technologies.
For example, the mRNA-based vaccines for COVID-19 were developed within 60 days. BARDA expects a similar turnaround time for samRNA vaccines facing down future pandemics. Arcturus recently delivered a COVID-19 vaccine candidate, ARCT-154, based on this very samRNA platform, providing a refrigeration-stable vaccine formulation currently in late-stage clinical trials.