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mRNA vaccine may be the first to protect against CMV

An experimental mRNA cytomegalovirus (CMV) vaccine from Moderna elicits some of the most promising immune responses of any CMV vaccine candidate to date, according to researchers. 
Compared with an earlier experimental vaccine from Sanofi and Novartis that never progressed to late-stage trials, Moderna's was more effective at preventing the virus from infecting the cells lining the mouth and nose that are the body’s first line of defense
It was also more effective at triggering the immune system to destroy CMV-infected cells, the researchers reported on Wednesday in the Journal of Infectious Diseases
The vaccine is being developed to protect adults against CMV, which could also prevent women from passing it to their babies during pregnancy
The virus rarely causes symptoms in healthy adults, but it can cause birth defects and brain damage in newborns infected in utero. One in every 200 newborns worldwide is infected with CMV during their mother’s pregnancy. 
CMV can also be deadly in immunocompromised patients, including organ transplant recipients. 
“It is the most common congenital infection worldwide,” study leader Dr. Sallie Permar of New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center said in a statement. 
The Moderna vaccine has advanced to the first-ever Phase 3 clinical study for a CMV vaccine candidate, her statement noted. 
“After more than 50 years of research, we are closer than ever to having a licensed CMV vaccine,” Dr. Permar said. “The new mRNA platform has a lot of potential.”