Health Conditions

How Moderna developed a coronavirus vaccine candidate in ‘a few days’

Biotech company Moderna Therapeutics has never had a treatment approved—but is a leading contender in the race for a coronavirus vaccine.

The 10-year-old biotech company was able to develop a vaccine candidate in “a few days” without bringing the virus into its labs thanks to its mRNA therapeutics technology allowing scientists to replicate the virus, said CEO Stéphane Bancel.

“The reason we could do a coronavirus vaccine…is it’s not our first vaccine, it’s our 10th,” said Bancel, pointing to the company’s work on treatments for everything from infectious diseases to cancer. Bancel joined Fortune editor-in-chief Clifton Leaf for a conversation during Fortune‘s Brainstorm Health Virtual conference on Tuesday.

Moderna’s mRNA therapeutics involves “drug candidates that harness messenger RNA, a type of RNA that can transform cells into drugmaking factories by instructing them on what kinds of biological materials, such as antibodies, to create,” as Fortune has reported.

Moderna has reportedly sparred with U.S. government officials who are backing the project as the company oversees its first large-scale human trial, Reuters reported Tuesday.

The company is still on track to proceed with phase three this month, Bancel said. “The notion that we’d get to phase three in six months is incredible,” he added. “This has never happened before.”

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