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Vaxart's Flu Vaccine Superior to Sanofi's Fluzone, Shares Up

Zacks Equity Research
Vaxart's (VXRT) oral flu vaccine candidate achieves 39% reduction in flu illness compared to 27% for market leader, Sanofi's Fluzone.

Vaxart, Inc. VXRT announced impressive data from phase II Challenge study, evaluating its H1 influenza oral tablet vaccine candidate. Data from the study showed that the vaccine provided a 39% reduction in illness compared to placebo versus 27% for market-leading vaccine injection, Sanofi’s SNY Fluzone.

This data will be presented at IDWeek 2018, which will be held on Oct 6 in San Francisco.

Shares of the company surged almost 78% on Oct 4 on the back of the encouraging data. However, Vaxart’s shares have declined 15.8% so far this year against the industry’s increase of 3.4%.

Data from the study further showed that Vaxart’s flu vaccine increased mucosal homing receptor α4β7+ (β7+) plasmablasts to approximately 60% while Fluzone did not have any impact and maintained the baseline level of 20%. The company believes that this significant expansion in β7+ plasmablasts increases immune response in patients.

The press release states that the vaccine candidate primarily provides protection through mucosal mechanism. But it also generated protective hemagglutinin inhibition (“HAI”) antibodies, which is the only protection mechanism for Fluzone.

The company previously reported that 37% of patients treated with its vaccine have developed influenza infection compared to 44% and 71% of patients for Fluzone and placebo, respectively.

The study was supported by Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority ("BARDA"), which provided a contract of $13.9 million and $15.7 million in 2015 and 2017, respectively.

There are several strains of viruses, which cause influenza. Several pharma companies are developing or commercializing vaccines targeting all or some of the subtypes. Emergent BioSolutions Inc.’s EBS FLU-IGIV and Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s INO SynCon vaccine are some of the vaccines under development.

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