Clinical-stage biotechnology company, Vaxart today  it had produced five COVID-19 vaccine candidates for testing in its preclinical models.  Each of the COVID-19 vaccine constructs is based on a different coronavirus antigen combination, and Vaxart expects to advance the best performing vaccine to manufacturing for clinical trials.

The virus that causes COVID-19, called SARS-CoV-2, shown here in an electron microscope image, can trigger severe cases of infection in some younger patients. Studying them could help scientists pinpoint genetic mutations that make people more susceptible to the disease.

“The effectiveness of Vaxart’s oral vaccine technology has been demonstrated in clinical trials.  Developing a 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. “Our scientists have been working tirelessly to develop these 5 different vaccine constructs, and this evaluation in our preclinical models will allow us to select the most potent candidate for clinical testing.”

In January, Vaxart initiated a program to develop a COVID-19 vaccine based on its VAASTTM platform.  On March 18, Vaxart announced that it had entered into an agreement with Emergent BioSolutions Inc. (“Emergent”) for development services in preparation for the cGMP production of the Vaxart vaccine.  Development services have started and, if Vaxart elects to proceed with cGMP manufacturing, Emergent is expected to produce bulk cGMP vaccine for use in a Phase 1 clinical study that Vaxart currently expects to initiate early in the second half of 2020.

“We believe an oral vaccine administered using a room temperature-stable tablet would provide enormous logistical advantages in large vaccination campaigns,” said Wouter Latour, MD, chief executive officer of Vaxart Inc.  “Perhaps more importantly, we recently demonstrated that our oral H1 influenza vaccine protects against respiratory infection based on mucosal immunity, the first line of defense for “mucosal” viruses like influenza and this new coronavirus.  We believe this puts Vaxart in a unique position to develop an effective vaccine that protects the population from COVID-19.”