Novavax buoyed by progress on two vaccine fronts

Novavax reported a pair of key milestones this week in its quest to introduce a new vaccine technology to the world.

Researchers reported that the developer's closely-watched trial of a new swine flu vaccine successfully cleared the first of two phases, with no systemic side effects seen among the 1,000 healthy people recruited for the study in Mexico. And the company launched a mid-stage trial of its seasonal influenza vaccine among people 60 or older--a target group that gets little protection from currently approved vaccines. Novavax says positive results from a mid-stage trial would set the stage for a Phase III in 2010.

In the swine flu trial, patients received either two doses of 5 micrograms, 15 mcg or 45 mcg of its vaccine or a placebo, with no sign of serious side effects after 14 days. Researchers in Mexico say the trial, which is being conducted with Avimex Labs, will now proceed to the second phase, with 3,000 people getting a 15 mcg vaccination. Shares of the Rockville, MD-based vaccine developer jumped eight percent on the news.

Novavax has one of the hottest stocks in biotech, with investors keen to cash in on the work it's doing. Instead of using a live virus strain, Novavax produces its vaccine using virus-like particles created in the lab.  

- read the Reuters story on the swine flu trial
- here's the piece from the Washington Business Journal on the seasonal flu study