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COLUMBIA, Md. -- Novavax Inc. today announced that it was awarded a five year $19.0 million contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for the design and development of a new class of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vaccine candidates for preclinical and clinical studies. NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. Novavax will serve as the prime contractor, with Emory University, Tulane University, and the University of Pittsburgh as subcontractors, and is expected to receive approximately $16.0 million over the five-year period.
The contract is the second award in two months that Novavax has received for its HIV vaccine development program. In August 2003, a consortium led by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and including Novavax, Emory University, and Harvard University, received a NIAID project program grant to develop another set of HIV vaccine candidates. Novavax is expected to receive $4.2 million over 4 1/2 years for its participation in this grant effort.
Nelson M. Sims, Novavax's president and CEO, commented, "This is a major milestone for Novavax's Vaccine Technology group and provides confirmation of the value of our proprietary research and technology development. It also has the potential to make a significant impact in the field of vaccines, affecting communities worldwide. This contract will provide significant funding for our HIV Vaccine Development Program, which is aimed at creating a new class of HIV vaccines that has the potential to be more effective than other test vaccines currently under development. Several of the research programs sponsored by this contract also integrate well with other sponsored vaccine and therapeutic programs currently under development at Novavax, which include Novavax proprietary Novasome adjuvant technology for smallpox, influenza, E- selectin, SARS, hepatitis C, and West Nile. The recent advances in our vaccine group have brought to the forefront the opportunity we have within this area of the company and we look forward to working with the NIAID and our collaborators to further our technologies."
The HIV vaccine candidates will be based on Novavax's proprietary virus-like particle (VLP) platform technology, which has been utilized for other viral vaccines being developed by the company, including influenza. Virus VLPs, which are non-infectious protein particulate structures that resemble viruses, elicit potent immune responses when administered as a vaccine. Promising HIV VLP vaccine candidates will also be formulated with Novasome adjuvants, proprietary Novavax technology that is designed to boost the body's immune response to certain vaccine formulations. The HIV vaccine candidates will be used in animal studies and subsequent Phase I clinical studies in humans.
Dr. D. Craig Wright, chief scientific officer, added, "This contract brings together AIDS vaccine experts from academia and industry with experience in HIV, VLP vaccine and adjuvant technologies. The vaccine candidates projected in this contract will be designed using multiple proteins as VLPs and Novasome adjuvant technology to provide protection across various HIV types. These vaccines will be designed to target immune cells that provide effective systemic immunity and infection protection."
According to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, AIDS caused the deaths of an estimated 3.1 million people in 2002, an estimated 5 million people acquired HIV, and 42 million people were estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS.
Source: Novavax, Inc.