Novavax (Nasdaq:NVAX) announced that it has been awarded a $1.3 million contract from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop a virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine countermeasure to protect the United States from foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), a highly contagious viral disease of livestock and a potential threat to U.S. agriculture.
The Company will use these funds over the next two and a half years to develop a Novavax recombinant VLP-based vaccine which, unlike current FMD vaccines, would not require the use of infectious FMD virus to be manufactured. This would address the potential risk of releasing infectious virus during vaccine production and stockpiling in the U.S. or other FMD-free countries.
"We welcome this opportunity to apply our recombinant vaccine technology to address a major threat to U.S. livestock producers," said Stanley C. Erck, Novavax's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Although the United States remains free of FMD, an effective vaccine will help prevent the spread of disease if an outbreak should occur and may abolish the risk of infection if used through a national vaccination program of all susceptible livestock."
Novavax' research & development is focused on creating highly potent recombinant vaccines produced via cell culture. The company's proprietary technology platforms include: Virus-Like Particles and Novasome® paucilamellar vesicles. Its proprietary virus-like particle (VLP) technology builds a structure similar to a virus except for the genetic material required for viral replication. Once injected into the body, VLPs attach to cells and trigger an immune response sufficient enough to protect a person, if they are exposed to the virus.
Novavax targets its research efforts initially on various strains of viral influenza which include: H1N1 influenza referred to as swine flu, H5N1 pandemic influenza, often referred as bird flu, and seasonal influenza. It has created a VLP-based vaccine to protect against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS.
Novavax' partners include: Acacia Research Corporatio, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, Cardinal Health Inc, Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Esprit Pharma, Inc, Ferndale Pharma Group, Inc, GlaxoSmithKline plc, IntelGenx Technologies Corp, King Pharmaceuticals, Inc, LG Life Sciences Ltd, National Institutes of Health, Organogenesis Inc, Pharmelle, Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd, SmithKline Beecham Plc, Takeda America Holdings, Inc, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Vivalis, Wave Biotech LLC, Xcellerex, Inc and others.
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