BARDA Awards $8.5 Million Contract to Study Influenza A Vaccine

Vaccitech’s Modified Vaccinia Ankara-M1+NP vaccine candidate aims to prevent a pandemic and seasonal influenza A epidemics

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Vaccitech announced that it has been awarded an $8.5 million dollar contract from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).   

This new contract is for the advanced clinical development of its recombinant Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vaccine candidate for the prevention of seasonal and pandemic influenza A. 

This new agreement was announced on March 4, 2019, saying BARDA will co-fund Vaccitech’s Phase II clinical trial designed to test the efficacy of its novel influenza A vaccine candidate. 

If this phase 2 clinical trial is successful, the contract could be extended so that BARDA can continue to work with Vaccitech in further developing the flu vaccine candidate. 

BARDA is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. BARDA’s mission to establish long-term strategies for the control and prevention of pandemic influenza. 

“Saving lives, whether during an influenza pandemic or from seasonal influenza, requires stronger and broader vaccine protection, more flexibility, and faster development than now available,” said Rick Bright, Ph.D., BARDA Director, in a press release. 

“BARDA will leverage its extensive experience in successful public partnerships to advance this vaccine candidate, which could increase the breadth and duration of protection against seasonal and pandemic influenza.” 

Influenza virus is a respiratory pathogen that causes annual influenza epidemics affecting an estimated 15 percent of the global population, with up to 645,000 deaths annually. 

In addition, pandemic variants of the Influenza A virus have previously been associated with upwards of 50 million deaths worldwide.   

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The clinical trial will test the ability of the experimental vaccine to protect healthy adult study participants from a challenge with the A/Belgium/4217/2015 (H3N2) influenza virus strain and will commence in Q1 2019 at the SGS Life Science Services clinical site in Antwerp, Belgium. 

The analysis of the clinical and virologic data for influenza protection is expected to be completed by Q1 2020. 

Vaccitech’s MVA-M1+NP vaccine candidate aims to prevent a pandemic and seasonal influenza by eliciting broader and more durable immune protection against all “A strains” of the virus, which cannot be achieved by traditional vaccination. 

The vaccine consists of MVA, a replication-deficient pox viral vector that has been safely tested in thousands of patients, to generate a strong immune reaction against Matrix 1 (M1) and Nucleoprotein (NP) influenza antigens. 

The antigens are highly conserved between influenza A viral subtypes and their intramuscular delivery in Vaccitech’s MVA vector construct induces a potent cell-mediated immune response intended to reduce the likelihood of developing clinical illness from influenza. 

Vaccitech is a spin-out company of the University of Oxford that develops vaccines to target the biggest health risks to humanity. 

The mission of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) is to save lives and protect Americans from 21st-century health security threats.

Within ASPR, BARDA invests in the advanced research and development, acquisition, and manufacturing of medical countermeasures – vaccines, drugs, therapeutics, diagnostic tools, and non-pharmaceutical products needed to combat health security threats.