The University of Maryland School of Medicine and Novavax, Inc. recently announced that an investigational vaccine candidate developed by Novavax against MERS-CoV blocked infection in laboratory studies.
UM SOM and Novavax also reported that a vaccine candidate against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) developed by Novavax on a similar platform also inhibited virus infection.
Historically, vaccine strategies for emerging pathogens have been limited due to the sudden nature in which the virus first appears and delayed by the protracted traditional vaccine development process.
This peer-reviewed manuscript describes a novel method to rapidly develop vaccines against previously unknown viruses, such as MERS-CoV, which appear suddenly and cause severe illnesses in humans.
The experimental vaccines, which were tested in conjunction with Novavax' proprietary adjuvant Matrix-M(tm), induced neutralizing antibodies, or immune responses, that prevent viruses from infecting cells.
Gale Smith, Vice President of Vaccine Development at Novavax, said that their protein nanoparticle vaccine technology is proving to have the potential to respond rapidly to emerging viruses and certain potential pandemic influenza strains, addressing what are clearly urgent public health needs.
Novavax will continue to evaluate this technology to produce highly immunogenic nanoparticles for coronavirus, influenza, and other human disease pathogens with the potential for pandemic and sustained human to human transmission, Smith added.
Matthew B. Frieman, assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the University and co-author on the publication, said that the emergence of SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV demonstrates how coronaviruses can spillover from animals into humans at any time, causing lethal disease.
Despite efforts to create a vaccine against SARS-CoV, no vaccine candidate has, to date, been successfully licensed for use and they have demonstrated that this novel method rapidly creates SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV vaccines that induce neutralizing antibodies in mice, he added.
The study is published in Vaccine1.