Novavax to launch trial for “ideal” coronavirus vaccine candidate

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Biotech company Novavax announced Wednesday that it has identified an “ideal” coronavirus vaccine candidate – and that it will launch the first human clinical trial in mid-May.

The candidate, NVX-CoV2373, has demonstrated its ability to produce immune responses and high levels of antibodies to COVID-19 in preclinical animal testing, said the Gaithersburg, Maryland-based company.

“This is strong evidence that the vaccine created by Novavax has the potential to be highly immunogenic in humans, which could lead to protection against COVID-19 and help control the spread of this disease,” Matthew Frieman, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said in the release.

The “ideal vaccine candidate” has been “selected from a number of constructs,” said Dr. Gregory Glenn, president of research and development at Novavax, in the release.

The company is working with another Gaithersburg company, Emergent BioSolutions, to help speed up the vaccine deployment process.

The scheduled trial launch in mid-May is “weeks ahead of schedule,” said Stanley C. Erck, president and CEO of Novavax, in the release.

Last month, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations granted Novavax an investment of $ 4 million to support its efforts, and discussions for additional funding are underway, the statement said.

A computer model shows the protein structure of a potential coronavirus vaccine in Novavax laboratories in Rockville, Maryland.
A computer model shows the protein structure of a potential coronavirus vaccine in Novavax laboratories in Rockville, Maryland.Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images

This initial funding – coupled with the candidate’s first promising results – “provided us with preliminary human data in July,” said Glenn.

“These advances demonstrate the ability of our recombinant nanoparticle technology to rapidly create candidate vaccines for emerging viruses like SARS-CoV-2,” said Erck. “In addition, the performance of NVX-CoV2373 in multiple preclinical studies and tests gives us increased confidence in its potential to protect against COVID-19 disease.”

But the company will need much more funding – hundreds of millions of dollars – to get its program through regulatory approval, the Washington Business Journal reported.

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