Daiichi Sankyo to launch important Covid-19 trial: mRNA, Covid-19, and cancer 

Daiichi Sankyo to launch important Covid-19 trial: mRNA, Covid-19, and cancer 

Kanako Mita and Sawako Utsumi

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese pharmaceutical sector is slow off the mark compared with several nations where mRNA coronavirus vaccines and non-mRNA vaccines are already being used. However, the Japanese companies of AnGes, Daiichi Sankyo, KM Biologics, and Shionogi are now at different stages concerning their own vaccine program. 

In Japan, the two mRNA vaccines being used are from Moderna (US) and the joint venture of Pfizer (US) and BioNTech (Germany). Hence, Japan relies on other international companies to supply vaccines to stem the coronavirus crisis. Therefore, it is welcomed that four Japanese pharmaceutical companies are focused on respective clinical trials.

NHK reports, “Japanese pharmaceutical company Daiichi Sankyo is preparing to launch a large-scale clinical trial on its experimental coronavirus mRNA vaccine as early as this year.”

Daiichi Sankyo’s clinical trial concerns several thousand individuals. However, unlike usual clinical trials that utilize the placebo angle, it is believed that a noninferiority test to monitor the number of antibodies produced will be checked against current vaccines. Therefore, with international vaccines already being used in Japan, this will bypass the unethical angle of using a placebo when vaccines already exist. 

Lee Jay Walker says, “If the clinical trial is successful, then Daiichi Sankyo hopes to provide an mRNA coronavirus vaccine next year once approved in Japan. Daiichi Sankyo also hopes to use mRNA vaccines for the treatment of cancer and gene therapy.”

Indeed, mRNA angles concerning cancer treatment could unleash major developments. The National Geographic reports, “Back when people first heard about Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines, the mRNA technology behind them sounded like the stuff of science fiction. But while the mRNA approach seems revolutionary, long before anyone had heard of COVID-19, researchers had been developing mRNA vaccines to fight cancer, autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, and to protect against other infectious diseases, such as the respiratory syncytial virus. “It’s not a new idea: What COVID has shown us is that mRNA vaccines can be an efficacious and safe technology for millions of people,” says Daniel Anderson, a leader in the field of nanotherapeutics and biomaterials at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.”

It is hoped that Japanese coronavirus vaccines will be available from next year. Similarly, that Japanese companies will focus on mRNA angles concerning cancer treatment, gene therapy, and other important areas. 

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20210712_03/

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/new-cancer-treatments-may-be-on-the-horizonthanks-to-mrna-vaccines

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