COVID-19 Vaccine Development: Updates from Novartis, Moderna and Novavax

COVID-19 Vaccine Development: Updates from Novartis, Moderna and Novavax

Summary

  • Many scientific experiments are underway for the development of a vaccine against COVID-19 which has taken 370,657 lives and infected over 6.04 million people across the globe (01 June 2020 at 11:11 AM CEST).
  • There are more than 100 of vaccine are under development, but out of these, only ten have entered human clinical trials.
  • Recently, a Novartis company AveXis has also joined the race of vaccine development by joining AAVCOVID Vaccine Program from Massachusetts.
  • Moderna has initiated Phase 2 clinical trials of its vaccine, and Phase 3 trials are projected to start in July 2020.
  • Novavax has expanded its manufacturing facility and anticipates offering an annual capacity of more than 1 billion doses of NVX-CoV2373 vaccine.

In the race to find treatments and solutions for the COVID-19 pandemic, there are over 100 vaccines under development across the globe at present, but only ten have made it to human clinical trials so far. In this fight against the novel coronavirus, different strategies are being used by companies around the globe to develop a vaccine.

In this article, we will discuss the latest updates regarding vaccine development for COVID-19:

AveXis, A Novartis Company, Joins AAVCOVID Vaccine Program from Massachusetts

A biotechnology company, AveXis, is engaged in the development of treatments for rare neurological genetic disorders. AveXis was acquired by the Switzerland-based pharmaceutical giant, Novartis in 2018. With its pioneering technology, AveXis is focused on developing treatments for rare and life-threatening neurological genetic conditions.

Massachusetts Eye & Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital has entered into a manufacturing agreement called AAVCOVID vaccine program for developing its novel genetic vaccine against novel coronavirus with the gene therapy industry leader AveXis, a Novartis Company.

With this agreement, AveXis would start vaccine production, and AAVCOVID would carry out additional efficacy and safety assessment in preclinical trials being conducted at the academic medical institutes.

AveXis will take all the responsibilities for manufacturing novel vaccine by employing its pioneering adeno-associated virus (AAV) technology which is for treating rare and life-threatening neurological genetic disorders.  Notably, AveXis is one of the biotechnology companies across the globe to have effectively increased gene therapy production with a significant production capacity (more than 1 million sq. ft.).

With this strategic collaboration, AveXis is providing its expertise, technology as well as supply chain without any cost to deliver the AAV vaccine for clinical studies which are planned to commence in the H2 2020.

Moreover, the experimental vaccine utilizes an AAV vector for delivering the genetic code to generate protein fragments of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2 virus), the cause of COVID-19, to produce an immune response.

What is AAVCOVID Vaccine Program?

AAVCOVID is a gene-based vaccine plan that pursues to provide genetic sequences of the novel coronavirus by employing an AAV vector. The vaccination offers genetic DNA fragments coronavirus that generates an antigen protein intended to stimulate an immune reaction for preventing the infection.

Moreover, the approach is backed by the vast experience related to adeno-associated virus (AAV) technology platform’s safety in several other diseases, its application in two medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Moderna’s Clinical Trial Enters Phase 2

Cambridge-headquartered biotech player Moderna Inc (NASDAQ:MRNA) is focused on drug discovery and development based on messenger RNA (mRNA). The Company has manufactured an mRNA vaccine that utilizes genetic material part of SARS-CoV-2 virus to stimulate an immune response from the human body.

On 29 May 2020, Moderna revealed that the first participants in each age group had been dosed in Phase II clinical trial of mRNA-1273, Moderna’s mRNA vaccine candidate against COVID-19.

The Phase 2 study, being conducted by Moderna under its IND (Investigational New Drug) application and will assess the safety, immunogenicity as well as reactogenicity of two vaccinations of mRNA-1273 administered twenty-eight days apart. The Company foresees collaborating with the NIAID to implement the Phase III clinical trial. The Phase 3 clinical trial dose is anticipated to be in between 25µg -100µg. The initiation of the trial is projected in July, depending on the finalization of the study protocol.

On 29 May 2020, Moderna’s stock closed the day at USD 61.50, up by 10.73% with a market cap of ~USD 22.83 billion.

Novavax Expands Large-Scale Global Manufacturing Capacity for COVID-19 Vaccine Production

Clinical-stage biotechnology company Novavax Inc (NASDAQ:NVAX) is into the manufacturing of next-generation vaccines for severe infectious diseases. Novavax’s vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373 is a stable prefusion protein antigen manufactured by utilizing the proprietary nanoparticle-based technology of Novavax to combat COVID-19.

On 27 May 2020, The Company announced the acquisition of Czech Republic-based Praha Vaccines a.s. for nearly USD 167 million to increase its manufacturing capacity. The acquisition comprises a biologics production capacity and related assets in Bohumil, Czech Republic. The facility is anticipated to offer more than 1 billion doses of antigen on an annual basis beginning in 2021 for NVX?CoV2373.

Novavax’s candidate vaccine, NVX-CoV2373 is currently under clinical trial in Southern Hemisphere at Alfred Research Alliance. The results of the Phase I clinical study trial are anticipated in July. If successful, it will then be able to progress to a Phase 2 clinical study where the vaccine candidate would be administered to a larger group of people for determination of efficacy and safety.

On 29 May 2020, NVAX stock closed the day’s trade at USD 46.04, up by 2.68% from its previous close, with a market cap of nearly USD 2.7 billion.

ALSO READ: COVID-19: Treatment or vaccines? What seems more likely, and what could be more beneficial?

 


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