Biopharmaceutical company Dynavax Technologies Corp. (DVAX:NASDAQ) and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, yesterday announced that they have "entered into a collaboration to develop a universal influenza (flu) vaccine."
The company indicated that that Mount Sinai's current efforts in this area have been funded under a contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' (NIAID) Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Centers' (CIVICs) program. The firm stated that "the Mount Sinai CIVICs team will evaluate a novel approach they have developed called chimeric hemagglutinin (cHA) designed to protect against all strains of influenza in combination with Dynavax's CpG 1018TM adjuvant."
The company advised that the goal of the development program will be to support an Investigational New Drug (IND) application for Phase I clinical trials.
The firm stated that, at present, there are no approved universal flu vaccines and that the seasonal influenza vaccines on the market currently are only 10% to 60% effective. The firm claimed that a universal vaccine could possibly eliminate the need for an annual seasonal flu vaccine and could additionally offer protection against newly emerging flu strains.
Peter Palese, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, commented, "We are focused on designing novel vaccine candidates and delivery platforms with an emphasis on cross-protective vaccine strategies that could be used in healthy adults as well as populations at high risk for the most serious outcomes of influenza, such as children, older adults, and pregnant women...Including CpG 1018 in these vaccines gives us an important tool to potentially improve the immune response, especially in populations that need it most like the elderly."
Dynavax' CEO Ryan Spencer remarked, "We are excited to partner with Mount Sinai on this important vaccine development effort that has the potential to significantly reduce the morbidity and mortality caused by influenza viruses every year...Having seen the benefit of incorporating CpG 1018 in our first commercial vaccine, we believe it has significant potential to enhance the immune response in a universal flu vaccine. This effort directly aligns with Dynavax's goal to leverage the value of CpG 1018 across multiple diseases and vaccine approaches through collaborations with world class researchers like Mount Sinai."
Mount Sinai's EVP and Chief Commercial Innovation Officer Erik Lium, Ph.D., added, "Drs. Palese, Garcia-Sastre and Krammer are key global opinion leaders in virology. Their collective research programs have resulted in technologies that support the development of a universal flu vaccine...In collaboration with Dynavax, we look forward to advancing these technologies to create an effective vaccine that can reduce the 3-5 million severe cases of influenza each year."
The company explained that influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that can result in hospitalization or death. The firm noted that there are two epidemiological forms of influenza, seasonal and pandemic, and added that seasonal influenza epidemics which are caused by influenza A and B viruses result in 3-5 million severe cases and 300,000-500,000 deaths annually worldwide. The company stated that according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35.5 million people yearly in the U.S. get sick with influenza, of which 16.5 million visit a healthcare provider, resulting in 490,600 hospitalizations and 34,200 deaths.
Dynavax is a commercial stage biopharmaceutical company based in Emeryville, Calif., that is developing vaccines using its adjuvant technology and expertise of Toll-like Receptor (TLR) biology to modulate the immune system. The company stated that it is advancing CpG 1018 as a premier vaccine adjuvant through research collaborations and partnerships and is also collaborating on developing adjuvanted vaccines for COVID-19, pertussis and universal influenza. The firm defined an adjuvant to be "a pharmacological or immunological agent that modifies the effect of other agents and added that adjuvants are added to a vaccine to boost the immune response to produce more antibodies and longer-lasting immunity."
Dynavax Technologies started off the day with a market capitalization of around $964.2 million with approximately 101.6 million shares outstanding and a short interest of about 15.0%. DVAX shares opened relatively unchanged today at $9.50 (+$0.01, +0.11%) over yesterday's $9.49 closing price and then reached a new 52-week high price this morning of $12.19. The stock has traded today between $9.50 and $12.19 per share and is currently trading at $11.29 (+$1.80, +18.97%).[NLINSERT]
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