Gaithersburg’s Novavax sees early success with COVID-19 vaccine

Gaithersburg, Maryland-based biotech Novavax Inc. reports early success with its experimental coronavirus vaccine, and has accelerated its timetable for human trials.

Its vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373, was shown to be highly immunogenic in animal models for antibodies that block the binding of the virus to cells. It reports virus neutralizing antibodies were observed after a single immunization. The effect increased eightfold after two doses.

Novavax now expects Phase 1 human trials to begun in mid-May, weeks ahead of schedule, with preliminary results expected in July.

The human trials will include 130 healthy adults, and will assess dosage amounts and number of vaccinations.

“We validated that NVX-CoV2373 generates high titer neutralizing antibodies against live SARS-CoV-2 virus,” said Matthew Friedman, associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

“This is strong evidence that the vaccine created by Novavax has the potential to be highly immunogenic in humans, which could lead to protection from COVID-19 and help to control the spread of the disease.”

In March, Novavax partnered with Gaithersburg-based biotech Emergent BioSolutions to manufacture its vaccine candidate.

Novavax has also received $4 million from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness to help fund its vaccine research.

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