Oral Vaccine Enters 2019-nCoV Development Competition

Vaxart oral vaccine platform offers potential advantages when developing coronavirus vaccines
white vaccine tablets

A San Francisco based biotechnology company announced the initiation of a program to develop a coronavirus vaccine candidate targeting the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV.

This development effort is based on the oral vaccine platform, VAAST.

‘An oral vaccine administered using a room temperature-stable tablet could be of logistical and critical benefit during major public health vaccination campaigns,’ says Vaxart, Inc.

In a press release published on January 31, 2020, Sean Tucker, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Vaxart, said, “The results of our recently published influenza challenge study demonstrated that our oral tablet vaccine primarily protects through mucosal immunity, a potential key factor when targeting mucosal pathogens, such as this new coronavirus.”

Vaxart said it plans to generate vaccine candidates based on the published genome of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and evaluate them in preclinical models for their ability to generate both mucosal and systemic immune responses.

Of particular interest will be the mucosal immune responses, as coronavirus is primarily an infection of the respiratory tract.

To date, Vaxart has conducted multiple clinical trials with vaccines based on its VAAST platform, demonstrating its oral tablet vaccines consistently generate robust mucosal responses in humans.  

“We believe our oral tablet vaccines provide substantial potential advantages, especially when targeting mucosal pathogens such as flu, norovirus, RSV and the recently emerged coronavirus,” said Dr. Wouter Latour, Vaxart’s CEO.

Vaxart oral recombinant vaccines are formulated as tablets that are enterically coated for efficient delivery to the small bowel. The enteric coating protects the active ingredient from the acidic environment in the stomach.

In addition, Vaxart’s vaccines have demonstrated efficacy in humans for H1 influenza, and in pre-clinical models for chikungunya, aerosolized Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis and Respiratory Syncytial Virus.

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Vaxart’s delivery platform employs a modular approach using a replication-incompetent adenovirus type 5 (Ad5) vector that delivers two payloads to the cells of the mucosal epithelium of the small bowel. One payload is the gene coding for the selected pathogen-specific protein antigen.

To date, Vaxart has dosed more than 400 subjects with our tablet vaccines for H5N1 flu, H1N1 flu, influenza B, norovirus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). We have observed a consistently favorable safety and tolerability profile in all of the studies to date.

In a Phase 2 influenza challenge study, Vaxart’s tablet vaccine demonstrated protection comparable to that of the best-selling injectable influenza vaccine. In subjects receiving the Vaxart tablet vaccine, protection was strongly correlated with mucosal immune responses, a unique feature of the Vaxart tablet vaccines, and a result not seen with the injectable vaccine.

Two-Phase 1 norovirus clinical studies demonstrated that Vaxart’s tablet vaccine generated robust systemic and mucosal immune responses. The presence of norovirus-specific fecal antibodies at day 180 post-immunization demonstrated the persistence of the immune response.

The other payload, which is always co-delivered, is the gene coding for the Toll-Like Receptor-3 (TLR-3) agonist, an adjuvant that activates the innate immune system, and was selected for its ability to stimulate broad immune responses. Every vaccine contains the TLR-3 adjuvant component.

Vaxart is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing oral recombinant protein vaccines based on its proprietary oral vaccine platform. 

2019-nCoV vaccine development news published by Precision Vaccinations.