Novavax reports positive avian flu vaccine results

Novavax ($NVAX) enjoyed a bump in its stock--a climb of 4.9%--after reporting positive results from two Phase I trials of its avian influenza vaccine candidate, Bloomberg reports. Novavax closed Friday at $2.35; shares have risen 87% this year.

A total of 666 healthy adults ages 18 to 49 were enrolled in the two trials to demonstrate the immunogenicity of Novavax's VLP-based H5N1 vaccine candidate at varying dose levels, with and without an adjuvant. Each person received intramuscular injections of vaccine or placebo at day 0 and day 21, and will be followed for 13 months. Current data show safety and immune responses over the first 42 days.

"We have demonstrated that Novavax can produce antigens from avian influenza strains that are as, or more, immunogenic than any other described in published results to date," Stanley C. Erck, president and CEO of Novavax, said in a press release. "Importantly, as we accelerate our development activities, these results give us tremendous flexibility for pursuing pandemic vaccine products, including vaccines directed at population segments that are sensitive to adjuvant use."

The U.S. government maintains a stockpile of similar vaccines, Gregory Wade, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, said. He expects there would be an annual stock of Novavax's. The time frame for licensing the drug is 2015, he told Bloomberg, and the need is based on whether a strain of the virus breaks out.

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