Novavax Granted Fast-Track Designation
Novavax, Inc. recently announced the US FDA has granted Fast-Track Designation for NanoFlu, its recombinant quadrivalent seasonal influenza vaccine candidate, adjuvanted with Matrix-M, in adults 65 years of age and older.
“The FDA’s decision to grant Fast-Track Designation for NanoFlu reflects the urgent unmet medical need for a more effective vaccine against influenza, particularly in the older adult population which often experiences serious and sometimes life-threatening complications, of the disease,” said Stanley C. Erck, President and Chief Executive Officer of Novavax. “We believe that NanoFlu will offer an innovative improvement compared to traditional egg-based vaccines, which frequently result in mismatch and poor effectiveness. We look forward to working closely with the FDA through the expedited review process, accelerating the access to this vaccine for the most vulnerable populations.”
The ongoing Phase 3 clinical trial is intended to evaluate the immunogenicity and safety of NanoFlu compared to the quadrivalent formulation of Fluzone. The trial’s primary objectives are to demonstrate non-inferior immunogenicity as measured by hemagglutination inhibition (HAI) titers of vaccine homologous influenza strains compared to Fluzone, and to describe its safety profile. Top-line clinical data from the trial is expected by the end of the first quarter of 2020 and could support a U.S. biologics license application (BLA) and future licensure of NanoFlu using the FDA’s accelerated approval pathway.
Influenza is a world-wide infectious disease that causes illness in humans with symptoms ranging from mild to life-threatening or even death. Serious illness occurs not only in susceptible populations such as infants, young children and older adults, but also in the general population largely because of infection by continuously evolving strains of influenza that can evade the existing protective antibodies in humans. An estimated one million deaths globally each year are attributed to influenza. Current estimates for seasonal influenza vaccine growth in the top seven markets (US, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and UK), show a potential increase from approximately $3.2 billion in 2015 to $5.3 billion by 2025.
NanoFlu is a recombinant hemagglutinin (HA) protein nanoparticle influenza vaccine produced by Novavax in its SF9 insect cell baculovirus system. NanoFlu uses HA amino acid protein sequences that are the same as the recommended wild-type circulating virus HA sequences. NanoFlu contains Novavax’ patented saponin-based Matrix-M adjuvant, which has demonstrated a potent and well-tolerated effect by stimulating the entry of antigen-presenting cells into the injection site and enhancing antigen presentation in local lymph nodes.
Positive top-line results of a Phase 2 clinical trial of NanoFlu in older adults released in January 2019 showed that NanoFlu induced improved immune responses when compared to the best-selling flu vaccine in the older adult market. All formulations of NanoFlu were well tolerated and elicited vigorous immune responses to the four strains included in the vaccine.
Fast track is a process designed to facilitate the development, and expedite the review of drugs to treat serious conditions and fill an unmet medical need. The purpose is to get important new drugs to the patient earlier. Fast Track addresses a broad range of serious conditions. Specifically, Fast Track designation facilitates meetings to discuss all aspects of development to support licensure and provides the opportunity to submit sections of a BLA on a rolling basis as data become available. This permits the FDA to review modules of the BLA as they are received instead of waiting for the entire BLA submission. Priority review (six-month review versus standard 10-month review) is an additional benefit that may potentially be available for NanoFlu as part of the Fast Track designation.
Accelerated approval may be granted for certain biological products that have been studied for their safety and effectiveness in treating serious or life-threatening illnesses and that provide meaningful therapeutic benefit over existing treatments. Such an approval will be based on adequate and well-controlled clinical trials establishing that the biological product has an effect on a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit. For seasonal influenza vaccines, the HAI antibody response may be an acceptable surrogate marker of activity that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit. To be considered for accelerated approval, a biologics license application for a new seasonal influenza vaccine should include results from one or more well-controlled studies designed to meet immunogenicity endpoints and a commitment to conduct confirmatory post-marketing studies of clinical effectiveness in preventing influenza.
Novavax, Inc. (Nasdaq:NVAX), is a late-stage biotechnology company that drives improved health globally through the discovery, development, and commercialization of innovative vaccines to prevent serious infectious diseases. NanoFlu, its quadrivalent influenza nanoparticle vaccine, is currently in a pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial to address key factors that can lead to the poor effectiveness of currently approved flu vaccines. ResVax, its RSV vaccine for infants via maternal immunization, is the only vaccine in a Phase 3 clinical program and is designed to prevent severe lower respiratory tract infection which is the second leading cause of death in children under one year of age worldwide. Novavax is a leading innovator of recombinant vaccines; its proprietary recombinant technology platform combines the power and speed of genetic engineering to efficiently produce a new class of highly immunogenic nanoparticles addressing urgent global health needs. For more information, visit www.novavax.com.
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