TheStreet

Moderna (MRNA)  shares jumped as much as 8.5% on Tuesday, then pulled back, after the biotechnology company said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted fast-track designation for its investigational Zika vaccine.

The stock finished 5.6% higher at $14.15.

The Cambridge, Mass., drug developer said the vaccine, mRNA-1893, is being evaluated in a Phase I study to prevent Zika virus infection in healthy adults.

"Protecting against Zika virus transmission, particularly in women during pregnancy, continues to be an area of high unmet need," Tal Zaks, a physician and the company's chief medical officer, said in a statement.

"Fast Track designation supports our belief in the clinical potential of mRNA-1893 and the importance of developing an effective vaccine that can be rapidly developed and deployed. Our Zika program is part of Moderna's broader commitment to improving global public health through developing mRNA vaccines to prevent the spread of infectious diseases."

The Zika virus is a pandemic that has rapidly emerged in recent years and could have long-term public-health implications, the company stated. Moderna said the project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds.

Moderna said it currently has strategic alliances for development programs with AstraZeneca (AZN - Get Report) and Merck (MRK - Get Report) as well as some U.S. government departments.

As of Monday's close, the stock was down about 12% this year. It touched a 52-week low of $11.54 on Aug. 7 and a 52-week high $29.79 in early April.