Dynavax Signs a Pact to Develop Universal Influenza Vaccine
Dynavax Technologies Corporation DVAX announced that it has entered into a collaboration agreement with Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (Mount Sinai) to develop a universal influenza (flu) vaccine.
Mount Sinai is looking to evaluate its novel approach, chimeric hemagglutinin (cHA), which is designed to provide a shield against all strains of influenza in combination with Dynavax’s CpG 1018 adjuvant. An adjuvant helps enhance the immune response of an antigen leading to rapid development of a vaccine and its broader availability to patients. An adjuvanted vaccine may also aid patients with chronic conditions who are less responsive to vaccination.
The development program will support an investigational new drug (IND) application for a phase I study.
Per the press release, Mount Sinai’s work in this area is funded under a contract award from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as part of the Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Centers (CIVICs) program established by NIAID.
Notably, the effectiveness of a seasonal influenza vaccine is limited between 10% and 60%. Hence, if successfully developed, a universal flu vaccine can eradicate the need to update the seasonal flu vaccine annually and might protect people against newly emerging flu strains, potentially those which can cause a flu pandemic. Currently, universal flu vaccines are not available or approved by any regulatory body.
Per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 35.5 million people were infected with influenza during the 2018-2019 season in the United States, causing 34,200 deaths from the same. As a result, developing a universal vaccine is important that has the potential to significantly reduce the morbidity and mortality rate caused by influenza viruses every year.
Shares of Dynavax inched up 1.4% following the aforementioned announcement on Thursday. In fact, the stock has rallied 65.9% so far this year compared with the industry’s increase of 9.4%.
We note that Dynavax’s CpG 1018 adjuvant is already successful in demonstrating its ability to enhance the immune response of its marketed hepatitis B vaccine, Heplisav-B, in patients with end-stage renal disease undergoing hemodialysis.
The company is also assessing additional opportunities to leverage its CpG 1018 as well as evaluating other prospects for the long haul. It established multiple research collaborations to strengthen CpG 1018 for supporting the development of coronavirus vaccines.
Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider
Dynavax currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Better-ranked stocks in the biotech sector include Emergent Biosolutions Inc. EBS, BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. BMRN and Unum Therapeutics Inc. UMRX, all presently sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Emergent’s earnings estimates have been revised 26.7% upward for 2020 and 29.8% for 2021 over the past 60 days. The stock has soared 84.3% year to date.
BioMarin’s earnings estimates have moved 3.3% north for 2020 and 13.4% for 2021 over the past 60 days. The stock has surged 51.1% year to date.
Unum Therapeutics’ loss per share estimates have narrowed 11.3% for 2020 and 69.5% for 2021 over the past 60 days. The stock has skyrocketed 286% year to date.
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