What happened

Shares of Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) were soaring 24.1% higher as of 10:13 a.m. EDT. The big jump came after the biotech announced positive interim data from a phase 1 clinical study of novel coronavirus vaccine candidate mRNA-1273. 

So what

People across the world are anxiously awaiting good news from the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna's results were admittedly early, but the company's news was certainly good.

Gloved hand holding syringe with Covid-19 vaccination printed on it

Image source: Getty Images.

After two doses, all participants receiving the 25 microgram and 100 microgram doses of mRNA-1273 had levels of antibodies that bind to the novel coronavirus that were similar to or higher than levels seen in patients who have recovered from COVID-19. Eight participants who received either the 25 microgram or 100 microgram dose of mRNA-1273 had levels of neutralizing antibodies, which defend against infection by the novel coronavirus, at day 43 of the study at similar or higher levels than those seen in patients who have recovered from COVID-19.

Moderna said that mRNA-1273 appeared to be generally safe and well tolerated. The company stated that the most significant adverse events occurred at the highest dose level (250 micrograms). However, it noted that all adverse events were only temporary and resolved themselves.

Now what

Based on the interim data from the early stage study of mRNA-1273, which is being led by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a 50 microgram dose level cohort will be added to the study. Moderna also plans to add a 100 microgram dose to the phase 2 study it is conducting.

The company hopes to start a phase 3 study of mRNA-1273 in July. If the results from that study are positive, Moderna plans to quickly file for regulatory approval of its COVID-19 vaccine. Today's jump for the biotech stock would likely be small in comparison to what would happen if Moderna's messenger RNA vaccine is successful in late-stage testing.