Biotech Vaxart (VXRT) has announced positive pre-clinical results for its oral COVID-19 vaccine candidates, with several of the vaccine candidates generating immune responses in all tested animals after a single dose.
Shares have surged 35% in pre-market trading Tuesday, with the stock’s year-to-date gain already at an eye-watering 567%.
“These early pre-clinical results are in line with those for our oral influenza vaccine which was protective in a clinical Phase 2 efficacy study,” said Sean Tucker, Ph.D., CSO of Vaxart, adding that additional data will inform which candidate moves forward into clinical trials.
“We are particularly interested in vaccine candidates that can generate mucosal immune responses in addition to serum antibody responses. That is a key feature of our oral vaccines and potentially significant for protection against SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19” Tucker added.
In January 2020, the company announced initiation of a program to develop a coronavirus (CoV) vaccine candidate based on VAAST, its oral vaccine platform. Subsequently in March, Vaxart entered into an agreement with Emergent BioSolutions for development services to prepare for cGMP production of an oral COVID-19 vaccine.
“We believe an oral delivery vaccine to meet this public health threat could provide distinct advantages versus candidates under evaluation by ongoing competitor CoV vaccine programs, and if commercialized, could be very differentiated due to its route of administration and mode of stimulating an immunogenic response” cheered HC Wainwright analyst Vernon Bernardino.
In particular, the Vaxart vaccine would be administered orally using a room temperature-stable tablet, an enormous logistical advantage over injectables in large vaccination campaigns.
Bernardino expects potential initiation of a Phase 1 clinical trial in the second-half of 2020 to act as a further positive catalyst for shares. As a result, the analyst recently reiterated his VXRT buy rating and $3 price target (26% upside potential). (See Vaxart stock analysis on TipRanks).
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