Vaxart Inc. (NASDAQ:VXRT) has announced plans to commence the first, second phase study of VXA-CoV2-1, its oral COVID-19 vaccine candidate, in Q2 2020. The company announced the start study commencement when it released Q4 and Full-year ended December 31, 2020 results and provided a corporate update.
Vaxart developing an oral COVID-19 vaccine
Andrei Floroiu, the company’s CEO, said that the recent emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 strains has seen the launch of injectable vaccines offering reduced protection. Also, it is clear that mass vaccinations through injections take a lot of time, and the new strains could emerge quicker than most countries can vaccinate their populations. Floroiu said that there is a need for a better solution since COVID-19 could be a challenge in the coming years. He added that this inspired Vaxart scientists to include N and S proteins in their CPOVID-19 vaccine candidate to protect against emerging strains. The CEO added that they are delighted to move into the second phase of the study for their oral vaccine candidate, which has a differentiated mechanism and could protect against infection.
The action mechanism of the vaccine involves triggering mucosal immune responses. Mucosal immunity in humans is the first defense line against viruses such as flu and coronavirus. Equally, it is vital in reducing viral shedding, thus minimizing transmission. Notably, the VXA-CoV2-1 vaccine targets the nucleoprotein (N) and the spike protein (S).
Vaxart also advancing S-only vaccine candidates
The company is equally advancing S-only vaccines targeting particular variant strains that include the South African strain. The new vaccine candidates will generate strong mucosal responses and serum antibodies complementary to the strong T-cell Inducer VXA-CoV2-1. The company had previously demonstrated that a bivalent oral vaccine through its platform can induce immune responses without interference.
In the first phase of the study, VXA-CoV2-1 met the primary and secondary endpoints with a favorable tolerability profile. The vaccine candidate didn’t show any adverse events in patients. It triggered immune responses against the coronavirus antigen in most subjects including, CD8+ cytotoxic T Cell response to the N and S proteins.