Novavax, Inc. recently announced progress in its efforts to develop a novel vaccine to protect against coronavirus disease COVID-19. Novavax has produced and is currently assessing multiple nanoparticle vaccine candidates in animal models prior to identifying an optimal candidate for human testing, which is expected to begin by the end of spring 2020.
Novavax created the COVID-19 vaccine candidates using its proprietary recombinant protein nanoparticle technology platform to generate antigens derived from the coronavirus spike (S) protein. Novavax expects to utilize its proprietary Matrix-M adjuvant with its COVID-19 vaccine candidate to enhance immune responses.
“Our previous experience working with other corona viruses, including both MERS and SARS, allowed us to mobilize quickly against COVID-19 and successfully complete the critical preliminary steps to engineer viable vaccine candidates,” said Stanley C. Erck, President and Chief Executive Officer of Novavax. “Now that the protein has been expressed stably in our baculovirus system, we aim to identify the optimal candidate and scale up production of sufficient vaccine for preliminary clinical trials. We are now well-positioned to advance the COVID-19 vaccine candidate to Phase 1 clinical testing in May or June.”
Novavax has a proven track record of rapid innovative vaccine development against novel emerging viruses, including efforts to develop vaccines against previous coronaviruses, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV), and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). In both cases, Novavax’s candidate vaccines demonstrated strong immunogenicity and 100% protection against virus challenge in preclinical testing. Novavax also developed a safe and clinically immogenetic Ebola vaccine candidate that proved effective in primate studies.
A new strain of coronavirus first appeared in late 2019 in China before beginning its rapid spread across the globe. The disease, named COVID-19, continues to cause severe pneumonia-like symptoms in many of those infected. Coronaviruses, so named for their “crown-like” appearance, are a large family of viruses that spread from animals to humans and include diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in addition to COVID-19. While much remains unknown about the new coronavirus, it is known that the virus can spread via human-to-human transmission before any symptoms appear.
Novavax’s patented saponin-based Matrix-M adjuvant has demonstrated a potent and well-tolerated effect by stimulating the entry of antigen-presenting cells into the injection site and enhancing antigen presentation in local lymph nodes, boosting immune responses.
Novavax, Inc. is a late-stage biotechnology company that drives improved health globally through the discovery, development, and commercialization of innovative vaccines to prevent serious infectious diseases. NanoFlu, its quadrivalent influenza nanoparticle vaccine, is currently in a pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial to address key factors that can lead to the poor effectiveness of currently approved flu vaccines. ResVax, its RSV vaccine for infants via maternal immunization, is the only vaccine in a Phase 3 clinical program and is designed to prevent severe lower respiratory tract infection, which is the second leading cause of death in children under 1 year of age worldwide. Novavax is a leading innovator of recombinant vaccines; its proprietary recombinant technology platform combines the power and speed of genetic engineering to efficiently produce a new class of highly immunogenic nanoparticles addressing urgent global health needs. For more information, visit www.novavax.com.