Vaccine-focused biopharma Dynavax Technologies (DVAX) has announced a collaboration to develop a universal influenza (flu) vaccine with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Mount Sinai’s work in this area is funded under a contract award from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), as part of the Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Centers (CIVICs) program.
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.
Adjuvants are added to a vaccine to boost the immune response to produce more antibodies and longer-lasting immunity, thus minimizing the dose of antigen needed. They can also enhance vaccine efficacy by helping to modify the immune response by particular types of immune system cells.
The development program will support an Investigational New Drug (IND) application for Phase I clinical trials.
There are no approved universal flu vaccines. The effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccine ranges between 10% and 60%. A universal vaccine could eliminate the need to update and administer the seasonal flu vaccine annually and could protect against newly emerging flu strains, potentially including those that could cause a flu pandemic.
Seasonal influenza epidemics, caused by influenza A and B viruses, result in 3–5 million severe cases and 300 000–500 000 deaths globally each year.
“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,” said Peter Palese, of Mount Sinai. “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.”
Shares in Dynavax have surged 66% year-to-date, and all four analysts covering the stock rate it a buy. The Strong Buy analyst consensus comes with a $15 average analyst price target (62% upside potential).
“We remind investors that Dynavax currently has partnerships in place with five different companies developing COVID-19 vaccines that utilize Dynavax’s CpG 1018 adjuvant” commented HC Wainwright analyst Edward White on July 16.
“We include no value at this time for the influenza vaccine or the COVID-19 vaccines, but we expect to add potential value for them to our price target once we see clinical data” he adds. White’s buy rating comes with a $12 price target. (See DVAX stock analysis on TipRanks).
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