Shares of Moderna's (NASDAQ:MRNA) leapt 7% on Wednesday, furthering the biotech's torrid gains -- of more than 315% -- so far in 2020.
On Tuesday, a peer-reviewed interim analysis of Moderna's phase 1 study of its COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273, was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The results showed that neutralizing antibodies -- which researchers are hopeful will help to prevent infection by the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 -- were found in 100% of evaluated participants in the study.
The vaccine candidate also seemed to be generally safe and well-tolerated. None of the 45 participants reported serious side effects through the first 57 days of the study.
Notably, by day 57, participants who received two 100-microgram doses of the vaccine candidate were found to have neutralizing antibody levels that were more than twice that of people who had recovered from COVID-19.
"These Phase 1 data demonstrate that vaccination with mRNA-1273 elicits a robust immune response across all dose levels," Moderna Chief Medical Officer Tal Zaks said in a press release.
Moderna plans to begin a phase 3 trial of mRNA-1273 by July 27. It will be a much larger study, with as many as 30,000 participants. Moderna hopes the trial will show its vaccine candidate is safe and effective against COVID-19.
If it does, it could be a boon for Moderna and its shareholders. Jefferies analyst Michael Yee forecasts annual sales of more than $5 billion for Moderna's experimental COVID-19 vaccine, should regulators authorize its use.