Novavax Announces Favorable Results From Clinical Trial For Pandemic Influenza Vaccine

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Novavax announced favorable interim results from a Phase I/IIa human clinical trial of its non-adjuvanted pandemic influenza virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine candidate.

Penny Heaton, MD, Chief Medical Officer and Head of Clinical Development stated, "The initial results from our Phase I/IIa study are promising and support further development of our pandemic influenza vaccine through regulatory licensure. We are moving forward with a dose ranging study as anticipated. These data illustrate the potential of the VLP platform to provide well tolerated and effective vaccines against difficult viral targets, such as the H5N1 avian influenza strain."

In the initial stage of this study, seventy healthy adults 18 to 40 years of age received two doses of either 15 or 45 mcg of the H5N1 VLP vaccine candidate or a placebo. The goal was to evaluate safety and immunogenicity, including hemagglutinin inhibition (HAI) and neutralizating antibody responses.

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The interim results indicate that the vaccine was well tolerated in all study groups. An independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) reviewed the safety data and recommended that Novavax proceed with the second stage of the study, in which the safety and immunogenicity of a range of doses up to 90 mcg will be evaluated.

The vaccine also induced good immune responses. Among those individuals in the 45 mcg arm (N=35), 83% had neutralizing antibody against the H5N1 A/Indonesia/05/2005 avian flu strain after the second vaccination. Sixty-three (63) percent had a 4-fold rise in neutralizing antibody from baseline. In regard to HAI responses, 48% had a 4-fold increase in titer from baseline. All subjects tested negative for antibodies to the H5N1 Indonesia strain before vaccination and no responses were observed among individuals who received a placebo. The candidate vaccine also induced responses against a different H5N1 virus, the A/Viet Nam/1203/2004 avian flu strain. Evidence of immunologic activity was observed among subjects who received the 15 mcg dose (N=14); 75% had neutralizing antibody against the Indonesia strain. Immunological responses to the neuraminidase (NA) or matrix 1 (M1) proteins were not measured in the interim analysis.

Novavax's VLP vaccine consists of recombinant particles that closely mimic the influenza virus and contain three immunologically important proteins HA, NA, and M1 from the H5N1 A/Indonesia/05/2005 avian influenza virus. The VLPs lack viral genetic material and therefore cannot replicate or cause disease.

Commenting on the interim data, Dr. Rahul Singhvi, Novavax's President and CEO said, "These data support the vaccine as part of our contribution to pandemic flu preparedness planning. Novavax has the potential to offer a safe and immunogenic vaccine that can be created in cell culture within 12 weeks of the emergence of a pandemic strain. We also offer a portable manufacturing platform that lends itself to regional production. Such a vaccine solution, combined with our manufacturing platform, provides opportunities for Novavax to assist countries in establishing their own pandemic vaccine supply."

"In addition, these initial results from our pandemic trial bode well for our trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine, which is expected to enter human clinical trials during the second quarter of 2008, pending completion of pre- clinical studies," he added.

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