Vaxart, Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing oral recombinant vaccines administered by tablet rather than by injection, announced today that it has initiated a program to develop a coronavirus vaccine candidate based on its proprietary oral vaccine platform, VAAST.
“Vaxart’s proprietary technology has been clinically proven in humans, and the ability to make an oral vaccine to meet this current public health threat is very important to all of us at Vaxart,” said Sean Tucker, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Vaxart. “The results of our recently published influenza challenge study demonstrated that our oral tablet vaccine primarily protects through mucosal immunity, a potential key factor when targeting mucosal pathogens such as this new coronavirus.”
Under the program, Vaxart plans to generate vaccine candidates based on the published genome of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and evaluate them in preclinical models for their ability to generate both mucosal and systemic immune responses. Of particular interest will be the mucosal immune responses, as coronavirus is primarily an infection of the respiratory tract.
To date, Vaxart has conducted multiple clinical trials with vaccines based on its VAAST platform, demonstrating its oral tablet vaccines consistently generate robust mucosal responses in humans. In addition, Vaxart’s vaccines have demonstrated efficacy in humans for H1 influenza, and in pre-clinical models for chikungunya, aerosolized Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis (VEE) and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
“We believe our oral tablet vaccines provide substantial potential advantages, especially when targeting mucosal pathogens such as flu, norovirus, RSV and the recently emerged coronavirus,” said Wouter Latour, MBA, MD. “In addition, the logistical advantages of an oral vaccine that is administered using a convenient room temperature-stable tablet could be of critical benefit when rolling out a major public health vaccination campaign.”