Vaxart, Inc., a privately-held biotech company in San Francisco, is working on development of oral recombinant vaccines that are administered by tablet rather than by injection.
Now the company will get a large funding boost from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the federal arm executing medical countermeasure preparedness investments for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
BARDA is awarding Vaxart a 2-year, $13.98 million contract which will primarily support a Phase 2 challenge study in human volunteers, designed to evaluate whether the Vaxart tablet vaccine offers broader and more durable protection than currently marketed injectable vaccines.
Through a series of additional preclinical and clinical studies, Vaxart will seek to demonstrate broad cross-protective immunity of its tablet vaccine against drifted and divergent influenza strains.
“Results from the recently-published Phase 1 trial of our H1N1 vaccine were very encouraging,” said David Liebowitz, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer of Vaxart. “The data show that our vaccine generated broad systemic and mucosal responses, suggesting it could offer advantages over injectable vaccines.
Vaxart’s vaccines are based on a versatile platform that is designed to be suitable for a wide range of infectious diseases and allows rapid and efficient production in response to newly emerging pathogens. Vaxart’s three lead programs include tablet vaccines for influenza, Norovirus and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
“We look forward to working with BARDA to advance the development of the Vaxart influenza tablet vaccine and our overall platform, which could lead to an improved seasonal vaccine with broader protection against multiple seasonal viruses with pandemic potential,” said Liebowitz.
The two-year contract was awarded under a Broad Agency Announcement issued to support the advanced development of more effective and universal influenza vaccines to improve seasonal and pandemic influenza preparedness.