Vical shares soar on Navy's H1N1 contract

Anyone doubting just how hot H1N1 news is right now should check out Vical's stock price this morning. The developer announced a modest $1.3 million contract with the Navy to fund the manufacturing and testing of its swine flu vaccine and the company's stock shot up 22 percent. And this was all laid out in releases weeks ago.

Vical's Vaxfectin-formulated DNA vaccine is one of the most closely watched vaccines among a new generation of treatments now in the clinic. Last spring the company inked an R&D pact with the U.S. Naval Medical Research Center to advance the vaccine. And last month the company announced plans to start human trials just weeks after the Navy funding lands. Researchers say that the DNA vaccine has demonstrated a robust response in animals.

"The current threat from H1N1 influenza and the potential for other future pandemics from strains like H5N1 call for a proactive approach to developing new vaccine technologies, such as DNA vaccines, that can be deployed rapidly," said Vijay B. Samant, Vical's CEO. "We are pleased with the Navy's vision in funding this important vaccine development program, which can benefit from their experience and capability to advance this program to the next stage."

Of course, Vical isn't the only vaccine developer to find itself in the spotlight. A slate of vaccine companies boasting new technology are also enjoying a rapid run-up in share price

- here's the Vical release
- here's the Reuters story