Why Vaxart’s New Flu Vaccine Is So Great

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Vaxart Inc. (NASDAQ: VXRT) shares more than doubled on Thursday after the company announced positive results from the midstage trial of its H1 influenza oral tablet vaccine. The new Phase 2 data will be presented at IDWeek 2018 on October 6.

Previously, Vaxart reported only 37% of study participants receiving the Vaxart vaccine developed influenza infection after challenge, compared to 44% of those receiving Fluzone and 71% of those receiving placebo.

Overall, the Vaxart oral tablet vaccine provided 39% reduction in flu illness versus the 27% reduction from Fluzone.

The Phase 2 study was completed with support from Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). Vaxart received a $13.9 million contract from BARDA in September 2015 to support the advanced development of more effective influenza vaccines to ultimately improve seasonal and pandemic influenza preparedness. The contract was increased to $15.7 million in 2017.

Sean Tucker Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Vaxart, commented:

These latest results show that our vaccine elicited a significant expansion of mucosal homing receptor α4β7+ (β7+) plasmablasts to approximately 60% of all activated B cells, while Fluzone only maintained baseline levels of 20%. We believe these β7+ plasmablasts are a key indicator of a protective mucosal immune response and a unique feature of our oral recombinant vaccines. Further analysis of the data also confirm that, while our vaccine also generated protective hemagglutinin inhibition (HAI) antibodies in serum like conventional injectable flu vaccines, it primarily protected through the mucosal mechanism, providing a robust 39% reduction in illness versus placebo overall. In contrast, Fluzone, the market-leading injectable quadrivalent influenza vaccine, only provided a 27% reduction in illness versus placebo, while protecting primarily through HAI antibodies.

Shares of Vaxart were last seen up about 118% at $6.44 on Thursday, with a consensus analyst price target of $5.00 and a 52-week trading range of $2.37 to $11.88.