Spotlight On... Vaxart initiates PhI trial of oral influenza B vaccine; NIH reiterates HIV vaccine commitment; BioMARC nabs $4.6M DOD grant; and more...

South San Francisco-based Vaxart said it has enrolled the first patient in a Phase I trial of the company's oral influenza B vaccine candidate. According to a statement, the vaccine represents the last monovalent component the company needs before it can advance with the development of its quadrivalent influenza vaccine tablet. Recent findings published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases demonstrated that the company's influenza A tablet vaccine generated neutralizing antibodies and a mucosal immune response in 92% of people after one dose; the influenza B vaccine is based on the same platform. The company says its room temperature-stable tablet vaccines may be as protective as currently marketed flu vaccines but can offer distribution and administration advantages. In October, it was awarded $14 million from BARDA to develop its flu tablet vaccines, money that will support a Phase II trial, the statement said. Vaxart is also working on norovirus and RSV tablet vaccine candidates and is expecting to begin clinical studies with those in 2016. Release

> The NIH said in its new 5-year plan that it aims to support the development of a novel HIV vaccine to confer at least 50% protection. Release

> The Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing and Academic Resource Center (BioMARC) at Colorado State University was awarded a Department of Defense grant worth $4.6 million to assist in developing vaccines against Western, Eastern and Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis viruses. Report

> Construction is expected to begin in March 2016 on the world's first halal vaccines plant in Bandar Enstek, Malaysia; it is expected to be fully operational in 2018. More