Novavax’ VLP delivery tech could accelerate H1N1 vacc production

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Influenza Novavax

Novavax’ VLP delivery system has been the subject of industry excitement this week after the US firm released Ph II data showing that a combination seasonal influenza vaccine based on the technology is effective and well tolerated.

The virus-like particle (VLP) cell-culture technology, which mimics the structure of a wild type virus to elicit an immune response but is unable to replicate, cuts production time to a fraction of that required using traditional egg-based manufacturing methods.

CEO Rahul Singhvi said the results have accelerated Novavax’ development of a pandemic vaccine, including one that protects against the circulating H1N1 “swine flu” strain..

Dr Singhvi explained that: “The current influenza pandemic underscores the potential for Novavax’ advanced influenza vaccine technology to have a signifi8cant public health impact​.”

Production rates

Novavax’ announcement attracted considerable media interest with, for example, the Wall Street Journal​ commenting that the VLP delivery technology had made the US firm a “winner​” from an investment perspective.

While the current global focus on pandemic influenza means that any story about vaccine development and production attracts considerable attention, the potential speed advantages of Novavax’ VLP technology have amplified the affect.

Part of the reason for this is the growing recognition that, while effective vaccine technologies do exist, current manufacturing methods are unlikely to be able to make the quantity of vaccines required to combat a pandemic.

As recently as last month the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that, using egg culturing, H1N1 does not replicate at a sufficient rate to make enough of the antigenic proteins needed to stimulate an immune response in traditional vaccines.

And, while the WHO is working to accelerate H1N1 replication rates and global drugmakers like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Novartis and Sanofi-Aventis are ramping-up production, the demand for an effective cell-culture manufacturing method has never been stronger.

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