LONDON, UK (GlobalData), 23 July 2012 – On Thursday, July 18th, the clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Novavax was awarded a total of $2m in initial funding by the international non-profit organization PATH to develop a vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) for infants in low-income countries with a high disease burden. The vaccine is designed to provide immunization to infants upon administration to the mother. A press release by Novavax stated that this partnership plans to cover partial costs of a Phase II trial, to test varying drug doses in women of child-bearing age.
In a statement, the president and CEO of Novavax, Stanley C. Erck, commented on the alignment of the company’s collaborations and its corporate strategy to develop vaccines for diseases with large patient populations across the world. In addition, Mr. Erck also mentioned that the company was interested in achieving higher distribution through multiple partnerships to help garner a majority of the estimated $5 billion RSV treatment market.
This comes hot on the heels of the news detailing Novavax’s collaboration with CPL Biologicals (CPLB) and the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) to develop a new malaria vaccine in India. This collaboration leverages Novavax’s research and development capabilities to complement those of ICGEB, while relying upon CPLB to manufacture the vaccines.
Both projects display a concerted, well-timed validation of Novavax’s technology platforms, virus-like particle (VLP) and recombinant nanoparticle-based vaccines. Novavax’s recombinant nanoparticle technology, known as Novasomes, function as phospholipid vesicles that contain viral antigen to trigger an immune response by the host. Novavax’s VLP technology, in contrast, utilizes recombinant virus-like particles that eliminate the use of live attenuated or dead virus, potentially decreasing the threat of replication and infection in the patient. Each technology will be utilized in the company’s unique collaborations to produce RSV and malaria vaccines, throwing Novavax into the forefront as a new and promising leader in vaccine development for low-income, high-burden settings.
The development of Novavax’s public–private partnerships (PPP) with a number of reputable government and non-profit agencies lends credence to the efficacy of vaccines in low-income developing countries around the world. Diseases such as malaria cause as many as 655,000 deaths worldwide, with almost 91% of the fatalities occurring in African countries (CDC). In the case of RSV, at-risk groups are generally infants, with most hospitalized children being under six months of age. Currently, RSV infects more than 60 million people each year and is responsible for 160,000 deaths annually (CDC). The economic and personal toll of these diseases underscores a stark need for efficient and viable prophylactic therapies.
Vaccines are often touted as the most efficient method to deliver therapies to low-income countries, due to issues such as compliance and access to healthcare facilities. In these countries, immunization programs and vaccines provide coverage that cannot be achieved with pills or other kinds of medication, and can help towards ensuring coverage for males and females alike (OXFAM). However, cash-strapped healthcare systems in low-income settings are unable to provide high-priced vaccines to the patients that need them. Furthermore, access to drugs is also hindered by limited medical infrastructure, thereby making the distribution and storage of available drugs difficult. Herein lays the crux of the unmet need with vaccines in low-income settings, i.e., a need to develop vaccines with significantly low cost of production and manufacture.
With Novavax’s strong entry into the global health space, it is poised to harness a significant share of the existing market, while obtaining critical clinical trial data to expedite approval in the US and EU. More notably, Novavax’s proprietary technology highlights a trend of recombinant technology that exists within most vaccine-treated viruses. As more companies step away from traditional weakened (LAIV) or dead viruses to produce an immune response, there has been an abundance of activity in companies adopting recombinant protein, monoclonal antibody, VLP, and even adenoviral vector-based treatments towards common viral diseases, such as influenza. Together, this partnership between Novavax and its collaborators highlights a new wave of efficient and novel technologies that promise to change the face of vaccine-based treatment and prophylactics for the future.
This is an expert insight written by GlobalData's senior healthcare analyst for infectious diseases, Dr. Ramya Kartikeyan.
For research related to this topic, visit: Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Infection Prophylactics - Pipeline Assessment and Market Forecasts to 2019
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